Letter of the Day: W
W is for Writing Word by Word by Beth Hautala.
Here’s what you get when you hang out at coffee shops:
1. Good coffee
2. Inspirational setting
3. Juicy conversation
4. Juicier converations that you “just happen to overhear”
5. Meet-ups with friends
6. Chance meeting with friends who have friends
7. Introductions from one creative spirit to another
8. New friends to share coffee conversations and write guest posts.
Introducing my newest creative friend, Beth! And, yes, I met her at a coffee shop thanks to our mutual friend Joey Halvorson, a fabulous photographer and the person who brought my character Lolly to life.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,” Pablo Picasso has been quoted as saying, and I stumbled across his words at a time when I was languishing away, waiting for my muse. Writers do this—most creative folk do, actually, but the reality is that all work, writing included, is only accomplished one simple act at a time. The muse is an elusive thing and hardly dependable.
I’ve always been a tad reticent to call myself a “writer,” though I have no particular reason for my hesitancy. Somehow, it always has seemed necessary to legitimize the title, and I’ve never felt qualified. But the realization that my work would need some consistency, should I ever wish to claim that elusive title, has served as motivation. Slowly but consistently, I began blogging about the writing life nearly a year ago now, and I have found the process surprisingly cathartic and instructive.
The very work of a creative profession (writing, painting, acting, or otherwise) demands that we bare certain elements of ourselves for the world to alternately love or hate. Whether performed on a stage, posted on a blog, or printed in a book—the work finds its purpose in the hearts and lives of the audience for which it was intended. That’s part of the thrill—causing a new train of thought or spurring a new perspective. But change never comes without struggle, and creatives—I among them—tend to be some of the most struggling and “rejected” people on earth. We continually run up against the wall of commercialism, and often our best ideas are sacrificed on that alter so that we can continue living with luxuries—like heat, plumbing, and electricity.
My heart is wrapped up in the creation and development of fiction, and the protagonists in my stories tend to wrestle with discouragement on various levels as much as I do. But if I’m honest, I’ve never written a story where the bravery of said protagonists is not tested, tried, and then revealed. Heroes, heroines, writers, and all of humanity in general need encouragement, the imparting of courage—the illumination of a bravery we already possess.
After working away at a middle grade novel for quite a while (inconsistently of course) the discipline of keeping a blog taught me to write consistently and I finished my book, refined it, and began the process of searching for a literary agent.
Which, in fact, I did this past January. You can read that post here.
And the little website that began as a place for me to cathartically vent my thoughts on writing, and teach myself to write with perseverance, has slowly transformed into a living breathing community of writers. We are teaching another to work at the craft, and encouraging and building one another up. The Writers Guild portion of the site gets an average of six-hundred hits a day and more than two-dozen writers stop in regularly to share work, offer critiques, and participate in forum discussions. We are drawn together by a mutual desire to write word by word, because as Picasso said, inspiration visits the working.
And I, well, I’m testing out that elusive “Writer” title a little more each day.
Beth Hautala runs writingwordbyword.com where she blogs about getting wrapped and tangled up in words, encouraging others to do likewise. Her first novel, WAITING FOR UNICORNS, and other subsequent projects are repped by Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary.
Thanks, Beth, for sharing your inspiring story.
Journaling Prompt: Who or what has inspired you lately?