Write or Wrong

Last year just before I left for the 2011 Writer’s Institute at UW-Madison I posed the question “Why do writers write?” and shared my thoughts on the matter:

I don’t think writer’s write. I think they’re written through. Somewhere along the way they gave themselves over to being a vessel through which words flow. A writer can’t not writethey’re compelled to write. Even if it’s only for themselves.

The creative experience of writing unleashes ideas, emotions, and thoughts. This unleashing is euphoric—a state that becomes addictivea way of being in the world that opens the door to endless possibility.

In an eloquent presentation of words and photographs, Winsomebella recently shared why she writes in a post titled, “If You Want To Know Why.”

In my perspective, the only time that writing is wrong, is when you don’t…write; when you hold back because of fear or discouragement.

I admire the tenacity of author Darcie Chan, who after receiving over 100 rejection letters from various literary agents decided to self-publish her book, “The Mill River Recluse.” To date it has sold more than 400,000 copieslanding squarely on the best-seller lists!

As I was contemplating this post, my friend Leanne Dyck posted the following letter (below the photograph) to her 12-year-old self on her blog, “The Sweater Curse”—cannily named after her most recent book published by Decadent Publishing:

Leanne Dyck age 12

Dear younger Leanne,

You know those stories that you’re working on. Well, you might think that you can just throw them out—unfinished. You may think that because they belong to you, you can do whatever you want with them. Well, you’re wrong. You can’t. You can’t because they belong to me—older Leanne—not you. So, instead of tossing them away, you better file them away for safekeeping. You better or else…

Oh, yeah, and another thing. You might think that by writing all those stories you’re just having fun. WRONG! You’re doing important work. However, you’re only doing half the job. You also need to get someone who can spell and knows grammar to edit them. Ask Mom she’ll help you. Then you need to submit them to literary journals or short stories contests. 

Oh, yeah, and don’t just do it once and think you’re done. Don’t just say, “Oh, well, I submitted it. I didn’t win. I don’t have to do that again.” Don’t think, I tried, failed and now I’m done. The only way you failed is by being done. Simply by continuing to submit your stories you’re proving that you are a winner. If you don’t continue working until the job is done, well then you’ll leave all that work for me. And trust me, I won’t be pleased.

Oh, yeah, and the most important thing. You may not think you’re smart, but I do. I know how talented you are. And you’re doing a grave disservice by not sharing your talent. So do it. Do it now!

Love,

Leanne

If you wrote a letter to your 12-year-old self, what would you say?

Please join me at the 2012 Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison April 13-15. Follow this LINK for details.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

59 thoughts on “Write or Wrong

  1. Writing must be the vibration of the moment for I find comments, blogs, statuses on writing at many turns in the past few weeks.

    and it causes me to realize how silent I have been with my words as of late, whether it has to do with hibernation, going within, exploring the caves and darkness, or just cleaning out the mess of the past… silent is not silent, it is full of contemplation, full of wondrous, sadness and joy…

    Those that are writers, fill the world with language, fill the world with thoughts and idea, as well as enlighten many who may have been in the darkness!

  2. A brilliant post. Amazingly, in the afternoon, I was also contemplating the same important fact about writer turning into a medium of strange corners of human consciousness which is in direct connection with universal consciousness.

    In my own eyes becoming a writer is no joke. It’s a meditation of highest type.

    -Arvind K.Pandey

    http://indowaves.wordpress.com/

  3. I’ve done that letter as a journaling exercise – quite good therapy actually. I wrote a page at the beginning of my daughters baby book (which is a diary of my pregnancy and her first years) that gave her almost the exact same words!
    SuZen

  4. The first thing I would tell my 12-year old self would be to “Stay out of that tree! You will fall, break both arms, take a trip in an ambulance you will never forget and spend days in the hospital packed in ice like a cocktail shrimp!” The second would be to “keep reading, stretching your mind and always keep it flexible and limber. You never know what is going to need to be fit in to it. Make sure there is plenty of room.”
    My art work comes to me the same way, when I finish a drawing or painting, I am almost always amazed. Where did it come from? How was I able to do this? While you are in the Zone, you might as well get it down on paper while you can, it may not be there the next time you call to it. I find that I respond to the Call much better than the Call responds to me. After all, I am the Tool being used, not vice versa.

    • Sandi – Yowza! The ride in that ambulance sounds absolutely nasty! And the shortly thereafter doesn’t sound like much of a hoot, either! I love your words, “I respond to the Call much better than the Call responds to me.”

  5. My younger self wants to thank you from the bottom of her heart Laurie. As I read your post, tears began to collect in the corner of my eyes. What many don’t know is that I’m dyslexic. I struggled for many years with low self-esteem. I’ve always loved stories and been drawn to write, but making the leap to writer has taken a lot of courage. My inner critic plays tones such, “You can’t write. You can barely spell.”–and others of a similar melody. But you’re right Laurie–a writer can’t not write. Thank you for validating and supporting me during my journey.

    • Leanne – Your younger self and your current self are oh-so-welcome! I’d been thinking about this post for a while and when I read on your blog the letter you wrote to your younger self, I KNEW it was the piece I’d been waiting for — thank you for letting me use it 🙂

  6. Your suggestion that writing is never wrong is the essence, Laurie. I have started to compose a letter to my younger self but find it far too lengthy for the space of a comment. It begs more time, as well :-). Thanks for the mention and for a nudge of thoughtful inspiration 🙂

    • Winsomebella – I’m glad for your visit today. You’re welcome for the mention. And you’re welcome for the nudge of inspiration — what goes around, comes around. Every time I visit your blog I’m inspired 🙂

  7. I would say to my 12 year old self, keep up the good work and stay curious.
    You love music, good debate, snow, skating, fresh air, cabins, and Minnesota.
    You are richly blessed and happy, waiting for the next wonderful adventure to happen.
    you have so many adults that want to see you succeed and be the best at being you.
    walking to school in 20 below weather build character and you are on your way.
    stopping for a English Muffin with strawberry jam and hot chocolate helps too.

  8. Don’t despair.
    Your handwriting is illegible, and you may not believe me, but that wont matter in the future.
    Just work on printing, people can read that, and you will get better at it.

    Keep on reading, keep on listening to people, and keep on making your own assessments and doing your own tests of what you are learning.

    You may not know how to spell many words now, and you will learn that with practice. Machines will be developed that can check your spelling as you write, and your spelling will get very much better as a result.

    Keep on learning, keep on following whatever takes your interest, and keep notes of those intuitions that come to mind.

    Don’t be afraid to try things, and don’t be afraid to be a lone voice – someone has to be first, and being first isn’t often very comfortable.

    Keep going, and don’t give up.

  9. Hi Laurie,
    I have always admired people that know how to put words to paper. I love reading books, and I love how a story just seems to come together in those books.

    There is just so much I would of liked to tell my 12 year old self, but then again a lot of lessons were learned in those early years, so maybe I would not say anything. 🙂

  10. Well Laurie you have got me inspired once again. To my 12 year old self,

    Dear Kevin
    Be patient. Eventually all those kids who are taller than you, well one day you will catch them up and over take them. The bully who beats you up, he will end up as a junkie, asking you for money and being afraid of you. The teachers who put you down, you can wave your graduation photo in their faces. The teachers who supported you, you can take them out for a drink and say “thanks”.
    Alas no Kevin, you will never be a pop star, or a sports personality. You will however have a lot of fun and make a lot of friends along the way. Just be patient
    Best wishes
    Me, well you, well us I suppose!

  11. Pingback: Letter to 12 year old me | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  12. Here is about 10:20 pm or so and I have just made to your post Laurie and read all the comments. Sigh! It is a good day – such a fine post and I got all choked up reading Leanne’s letter to her younger self. If I was going to say something to my 12 year old self it would be “someday you won’t feel so odd and you will be part of a whole community of creative beings who know what the word ‘must do’ means when it comes to words and paints or cameras or any other assistant to creative expression.” Thank you Laurie. Thank you Leanne. Thank you everyone!

  13. Beautiful letter, beautiful post … writers definitely must be open to listening closely for the true depth of their words … sensing what lies just beyond full awareness. That is where the gold is discovered. Thanks to both of you … loved this! ~ Daisy

    • Anaturalfire – Thank you for honoring me with the “Versatile Blogger” award.

      The rules as they were provided:
      Nominate 15 fellow bloggers
      Inform the bloggers of their nomination
      Share 7 random things about yourself
      Thank the blogger who nominated you
      Add the versatile blogger aware picture to your post

      My nominees in alphabetical order are:
      Blackwatertown – A potpourri of revelations, you never know what to expect
      By the Sea – Connecting us with artwork and poetry
      Creative Potager – Adding a wide brushstroke of color to a creative community
      Eternal Presence – Always dishing up delicious food for thought
      Lake Superior Spirit – Sharing her heart from a little cabin in the big woods
      Magsx2 – Finding the most extraordinary happenings all over the globe
      [The] Reluctant Blogger – Sharing his perspective through his camera lens
      Simply Here – A simple place where hearts connect
      Streams of Consciousness – Packing a powerful punch in delicious bite-sized pieces
      SunnyRoomStudio – Creating sacred space for sharing inspiration
      [The] Sweater Curse – Stitch-by-stitch, knitting her words and yarn into a beautiful tapestry
      Ted Howard NZ’s Blog – A man they said wouldn’t live, yet he’s beaten the odds
      Today’s Path – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — find all the tips here
      Winsomebella – Painting a beautiful word picture served on a platter of delicious photography
      Wonders In The Dark – His Monday Morning Diary informs us about the world of theater and film

      Seven Random Things about Me
      1. I love red licorice
      2. I’m a voracious reader
      3. I love to bicycle
      4. If I had to sit on my hands, I couldn’t speak
      5. I love to travel
      6. I wear my pajamas when I write
      7. My pet peeve is littering

      Since I’m not seeing a way to pull in the versatile blogger picture here, I’ll post it on the home page where the 15 recipients listed above can retrieve a copy (at least that’s the plan)…

      • Laurie I have been tarty in getting by but thank you very much! I appreciate the recognition. I shall have to give this some thought as I am assuming the idea is to come up with some new bloggers so as to spread things around. So I shall sleep on it and muse until at least Monday – unless the good fairy takes her wand out and vanishes some of my “to do” items between now and then.

      • Terrill – You’re welcome. If you see the Good Faerie, will you send her my way once she’s done there — I could use an assist with my to-do list as well 🙂

  14. you are most welcome Laurie, very well deserved, and thanks to YOU for the same! also, thanks for sharing a wonderful array of bloggers i can now connect with! THAT’S the wonder i am most grateful for…i LOVE your #4 random item 🙂

  15. This is a brilliant post in every sense. I would offer myself some added academic encouragement at a time where I could not possibly have mentally negotiated the importance of a more regimented approach to my studies at a time when I allowed interest in sports obsfigate the more vital picture. Anyway those writers you honor here deserve all the credit for what they have accomplished.

  16. I always thought I was a writer, because I wrote all the time and kept journals and notes, and took great notes in classes and programs…now I know that was training to be a great listener…

    This is truly a wonderful post and congrats on your blogging award and now I will visit all your nominations – Thank you for sharing

  17. Pingback: The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award – patriciaswisdom.com

  18. Thank you for the award Laurie. Like magsx2, I’ve been distracted – by some mundance things and some good things.
    It’s my first award – woohoo – hee hee.

  19. Oh aye and… good post. Too hard or too long to think what would go in that letter. Perhaps one word – relax.
    Perhaps no letter – because that might change what happened – and there are some aspects I couldn’t/wouldn’t alter even if it meant keeping some I’d rather change.

  20. Pingback: Write or Wrong ? Speaking from the Heart | Showbiz Tonight

      • Thank you also for the blogging award, Laurie. Here’s what I just wrote on my blog under the comments (in case you don’t see it): Wow, Laurie! Hugs & sixteen more hugs! Thank you for the nomination. I am not sure I will play along right now (16,000 things to do to catch up) but I am SO honored that you received the award and that you so lovingly passed it on to so many of us versatile bloggers. **grin** You are such a great blogging friend!

  21. Laurie – This post is just magnificent. I love the letter to 12-year-old self and the thought of “writers as vessel through which words flow.” I would tell my 12-year-old self to CONSIDER storytelling as a profession. I grew up in a rural Pennsylvania school that instilled in young female students (who enjoyed and excelled in English) that they had one option: teach. And this wasn’t THAT long ago (I graduated in 1990). While teaching is, indeed, a noble profession and one in which I am certified, I didn’t consider writing fiction seriously until I was 23, and out of college. No one had ever encouraged me, turned on that light — not even in college, believe it or not! My high school lacked creative outlets and inspiration, and my college hadn’t yet matured its English department either.

    So I would tell my 12-year-old self: “You can be ANYTHING you want to be. Use your storytelling ability to your advantage. Shoot for the stars!”

    • Melissa – Thank you for what you shared here (1990 was just around the corner and they didn’t encourage anything other than teaching? Yikes!). I love that you’d tell your 12-year-old self that you can be ANYthing!

  22. Hi, Laurie — I am so friggin’ behind in my writing because I am so busy just keeping up with the rigors of living while working full time, working at my clinical placement 10-12 hours a week, having a relationship, exercising, trying to see my granddaughter at least once a month, blah blah blah. There is always something else TO DO . . . even if that “to do” is to make space for creativity and writing! Thank you for the versatile blogger award. Now I have to go figure out how to get it to appear . . .

    • Barbara – Sounds like you’ve got 17 wicks on your candle and they’re all lit. Yowza! If you’d like step-by-step instructions on how to make the award appear, send me an email and I’ll send them to you that way 🙂

      • Barbara – Opting to keep it casual, I nominated mine in the comments section of my previous post (last week’s — “Write or Wrong”). In alphabetical order I listed the names of the blogs and made each listing a hot-link so that readers could go right there if they wanted to. Then I went to each nominee’s post and in the comments section, let them know that I’d nominated them.

  23. Excellent post Laurie.

    If I were to write a letter to my 12 year old self I’d say “What were you thinking, loosing the key to that diary. . . the one I soooooooooooooo wanted to read as I was cleaning out the attic of my parents house”.

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