by Windy Lynn Harris
I haven’t seen the invisible entity swirling near my keyboard, but she calls me Writer without smirking and it reminds me that I really do this writing thing. I really do put words and sentences together, create stories and books and other odd pieces. She’s near me when I create. That’s all I know. I swear she’s here next to me right now.
Maybe you hear her too, when you think about writing something new. You know the feeling: You have a tingle of an idea. Somehow you get the courage to sit down and explore it a bit on the page. I like to think you’ve heard her invitation at moments like that, that she helped set you in your chair and rubbed the tension out of your shoulders. I like to think she whispers to all of us writers in individual ways, speaking in whatever language we tap into when we stretch our ear to the universe and quiet our minds. Dear Writer, she says. Always Dear.
Dear Writer: Good morning. Sleep well? Feel like stretching? Good. Stretch. Grab something healthy to eat and meet me near your laptop. Exercise first? Sure. Do the jumping jacks and walk the dog and pop in that dusty yoga video for a view. Do it all. Then come here. I want to talk to you.
Dear Writer: Hey there. Thanks for stopping by. Have a seat. Here’s a pen. And paper. And sunlight. And space.
Dear Writer: You like the keyboard. I like the keyboard, too. Let’s open a new document. I like the click-click-click of a good long sentence on a blank page. Let’s try one. Any sentence will do.
Dear Writer: It’s just a pretend piece of paper on a computer screen. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Mistakes are good when you’re an artist.
Dear Writer: Sure, you should go to the bathroom first. And yes to that glass of water.
Dear Writer: I’m glad you’re back. Scribble in a notebook to get the ideas flowing? Good plan. Wanna make a word bubble? You love word bubbles.
Dear Writer: You smile when you type, did you know that?
Dear Writer: I like your words. You’ve nearly got a whole paragraph of them now and I’m starting to see where this story is headed. You began by writing about a camping trip to Leavenworth, but the car ride was so interesting that you stayed there. A flat tire now? Oooh. That’s good.
Dear Writer: Why are you stopping? You can’t be hungry yet. You are? Are you sure?
Dear Writer: Did you have a nice lunch? Good. I like pizza, too. No need to scroll up. Don’t bother reading what you wrote this morning. Keep moving ahead. Forward motion. You’ve got this.
Dear Writer: Your story makes me feel nervous. That’s a good sign. A very good sign. Keep typing. I’m worried about that woman and the tire and the sun going down before she’s rescued.
Dear Writer: Stop pressing the Delete button! You can’t judge this yet. Follow the story. Enjoy the flow of words. See where it leads you. Trust yourself to find your way to the end.
Dear Writer: This whole story is coming together now. Can you see it? The abandoned car and the bear and the flashback to Smokey the Bear commercials on TV. You’ve compared the fallen trees to your mother’s stubbed cigarettes? Oh yes. I see the connection now.
Dear Writer: I don’t know how it should end either. Sure, go walk the block a few times. Clear your head, but come back. We still have work to do. I’ll wait here. For you.
She’ll wait for me. She always does. And if I fail to return today she’ll be at my side when I wake up tomorrow. I’ve asked her about the rest of you and she said she’s there by your side too, nudging you along when she can. Look to your left. Yes, that’s her. She’s there to help you get started, or keep you going when you feel stuck. She’s there to loosen the strain in your muscles, and keep you company while your sentences hit the page. You can’t see her? Me either. That’s okay. Tip your head, Writer. You’ll hear her voice.
Windy is launching her book, Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays, this week. Leave a comment by September 25th on this post and Windy will send one lucky winner her book.
Short stories and personal essays have never been hotter–or more crucial for a successful writing career. Earning bylines in magazines and literary journals is a terrific way to get noticed and earn future opportunities in both short- and long-form writing. Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays capitalizes on the popularity of short creative work by instructing on the two key steps to publishing short works: crafting excellent pieces and successfully submitting them. Featuring advice and examples from a multitude of published authors, Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays is a must-have for any writer’s bookshelf.
Image: “Vintage Typewriter” by Memphis CVB via Flickr.