My Origin Story & Finding Community

My origin story has three acts all by itself. The third and final act is where I am today having found my writing community.

ACT I

If I were to start in childhood, I couldn’t say: “I’ve always wanted to be writer!” That simply isn’t true.

I don’t think I actively wanted to be a writer as much as I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn specifically.

I had a penchant for singing and memorizing songs and sort of developed a love of language and big words because I watched grown up musicals, dramas, and comedies—some I think my peers were not exposed to.

I think some of my elementary teachers recognized and appreciated that in me, but others found it daunting and discouraged it.

That was until my fourth grade teacher volunteered me without my knowledge to be a part of the Young Author’s Conference.

There I met Judy Blume and I asked her when I was like 9 “If (and it was a big if) I wanted to be a writer what would I need to do?”

She said I needed to “Start writing stories.” Easy, right?

That didn’t exactly come easily to me. I don’t have the “I wrote a story about X and it won the prize in the local magazine” origin story.

I was better at telling stories than writing them down and stories to me were like long jokes at that age.

I came from an extended family of story tellers. They would sit around the dining room table and retell the same stories about our relatives over and over with the same punchlines.

I memorized them as a kid. I got a sense of rhythm that way for comedic timing and what kinds of things made people “interesting characters”.

I think I filed a lot of those stories away in the back of my mind and those became the kind of slice of life stories I wanted to tell and would eventually.

I wasn’t really into telling fairy tales or more traditional storytelling, the kinds of things my peers were turning in at school, so I felt out of place in that realm.

The kinds of stories I wanted to tell would have gotten me in trouble at school and at home. Discretion was more important than truth in those days. And obedience was favored more than creativity and humor.

Especially if you were a girl.

My interest in actual “writing” wasn’t sparked until I was a teen, and it was sort of a Walden-esque experience.

Needing an escape, my Father would scoop us all up and take us to a cabin they rented in the Poconos.

If you can imagine it: no running water, no indoor plumbing, no cable, no internet. Just VHS tapes (luckily) of movies and TV shows that I had seen thousands of times—again the repetition and experience of things was sort of a family tradition. Watching the same Dick Van Dyke or All in the Family episode so many times that you could act it out, was just something we did.

We were all very theatrical.

ACT II

Not to mention all the “imagining” I did outdoors, there was that element, and the seclusion as we were literally in the middle of nowhere.

But this existence was confusing.

In the seclusion I was becoming more self-conscious, less likely to perform. I was going back and forth between my introverted self being at ease, while my child self was becoming very bored.

I think as a result I sort of lived in a fog of uncertainty, not really knowing who I was.

As I got older, I found myself reaching for something new, and I was looking for things that sparked my curiosity. With few options, it just happened to be the stack of literary magazines and Nat Geo and Popular Science that the man who owned the cabin left lying around.

It was an odd combination of information I guess, but it flipped a poetry switch in my brain.

I was also stealing and reading the NYT best-selling books, and Women’s Fiction my Mom brought in tow most likely to stifle her own boredom.

The more I read the more it opened up my brain to the possibility that I could be one of those writers even though writing a novel seemed like a Herculean task at the time.

I used to look at the flap copy not so much for the synopsis but so I could look at the author’s picture and read their accolades and then sort of map out in my mind what steps I needed to take to have those same credits and experiences.

During her seven years at Vogue, Joan Didion worked her way up from promotional copywriter to associate feature editor. While there, and homesick for California, she wrote her first novel, which was published in 1963. 

Something like that.

“Damn,” I thought, “That could be my life.”

At that age you expect your life to just fall into place, especially when you have the luxury to dream about it, which I took for granted.

It certainly didn’t just fall into place…

As I progressed in age, I actually took it upon myself to ask my parents if I could keep going to the mountains but literally on my own terms.

I became a camp counselor but I did lots of reading then and  journaling and note-taking, with all my extra time. When I was home I started keeping track of the things I wrote in a portfolio with drawings and so forth.

I was also on the internet a lot more where even in the late nineties I was starting to find places I could write and share my writing. I think my parents had literally no idea how nuanced I was with this, and I kept a lot of it a secret from my peers, somehow, learning early how to lead this double life as a writer/normal person.

But while I was at the camp, I started teaching a poetry class to younger campers, a group of us started a camp newspaper and radio station and eventually my life just went in that direction. I was suddenly taking creative writing classes and journalism in high school then again in my freshman year of college. Eventually the trajectory had me able to say: “This is my world; these are my people.”

ACT III

And it’s a very diverse group, as I would learn which would toss me a bunch of artistic opportunities and end up pulling me in lots of different directions. So much so that I would have to crawl on my hands and knees back to my writing which at the time was still a very solitary act for me. Sure people read my poetry, sometimes. I was usually the go-to person if someone wanted something written for something. It would show up in the college paper because I knew the editor, but I was still not fully the “out” writer I wanted to be. It felt like an odd job.

I also got distracted. I met men. I traveled a lot and lived in a few places including California. But I always went back to writing.

Secretly, I was fully entrenched in the online poetry world and back then I feel like Fiction and poetry were very different realms and communities.

I was blogging, I was submitting to publications, I was an active part of Poetic Asides and when you’re doing that you kind of feel like you’ve “made it” as a poet, not knowing that there was so much more to do to actually make it. When you only have people like Shakespeare and Elizabeth Bishop and Emily Dickinson to emulate, as long as you are eating and staying alive you are doing something right.

Why was it a secret? Because I was often changing diapers for a living and not going to chic cocktail parties.

Eventually I felt like I hit a wall, and I had an itch to do other things. I think circling back again I wondered if writing a novel was as hard as I thought it was when I was 16 now that I was in my 20s.

But, I got bit by the acting bug again even though I went to school for writing, and I did that for a while, I graduated my undergrad around the same time and so was reading a lot literature and trying to find sneaky ways to make all my projects either about poetry, writing, or studying poets or playwriting, and performing.

My GPA hit the roof, so being an academic to me seemed the only route toward being a writer even though it secretly bored me to tears.

Though academia did afford me a few chic cocktail parties, conferences and events, just not the paycheck I needed to sustain that life.

After I graduated the economy tanked. I was writing poetry, plays, trying to write a novel, I was freelance writing, but I was broke, and I couldn’t get that elusive writing job that didn’t exist.

I tried to work at a newspaper, but they had just laid off all their writers and only had one on staff and wanted to keep it that way.

Eventually I started teaching preschool again. When I moved up the ranks and did more than change diapers, it was as a creative gig that gave me a lot of time to write, but let’s face it, not the right place for me.

I stupidly had high hopes for getting an MFA but didn’t get accepted to the Top 10 school I cherry-picked and found that a bit demoralizing.

I decided to pull up my own grown up pants and transitioned from preschool teaching to marketing, the closest thing I could get to a writing job at the time. It was IMPOSSIBLE to get a teaching job that wasn’t for ECE or tutoring. That was a letdown. I spent lots of my undergrad preparing to become a teacher.

It felt impossible to sustain any kind of writing life even though I was trying and SHOCKINGLY this was the time of my life when the novel writing really started.

I was sneaking in writing at all my jobs, I was always scribbling something, outlining, rethinking my characters.

I wasn’t very social.

I always had a notebook or tape recorder of ideas. I kept blogging and though I wasn’t a writer in many people’s eyes, because I was always someone’s administrative assistant, or marketing flunkey, I had “completed” my first book.

I wrote a fictionalized version of the chunk of my life that happened just before the book was written (basically all the stuff that isn’t in this story and more), and I was left in shock that I did that. But I wrote the exact book that I thought I would write.

Once I did that I had all of these other ideas and started to make sense of a lot of the slush I had compiled over the years. The slush became other books.

That would be the moment I started to “feel” like  a writer, if I were honest with myself, and when I was finally brave enough to share my writing with non-writers/creatives.

But being a writer in a world of non-writers can really suck. Some have their presuppositions of what being a writer is and what the writing entails and they always want you to adjust to that. Or they just don’t get it. “You ‘write’? Why do that when you can be doing anything else?”

Good question.

But some non-writers can be a great resource. I find it’s easier to share my writing with people who have zero artistic predilections, because they read like a reader and don’t bring ego into it.

Conversely if you share your writing with an actor or a artist, they always want to see how they can help you develop your skill and take credit for it, or turn it into something they can use to further their own career.

Leaving you not the creator, but in the fine print, or an idea-mill. That might sound salty, but it’s been my experience.

End of the day if you aren’t making money writing, no one is taking you seriously, and various “jobs” just feel like consolation prizes.

But regardless of where you are in life and what you are doing, your writing will follow you.

The one thing that made me finally slam on the breaks and take that monumental step of BEING A WRITER was that I had done everything else EXCEPT THAT. And I couldn’t not do it anymore. So I started calling myself a writer to anyone who asked what I did for a living.

FINDING COMMUNITY

Writing is a solitary venture, but it doesn’t have to be all the time. It’s very important to find a group of writers who “get” you, and like any relationship it’s best to find those specific people and not just settle for what is right in front of you.

It’s also important to not make assumptions about people based on their experiences, tastes, and skills. Just because you are all of the same age group, doesn’t mean you all read/write the same. Just because you all like the same bar, doesn’t mean you spend your free time the same way.

If you don’t mesh with a group of writers it’s not that they are great and you suck, they just aren’t the right group for you. Just keep looking. Be more deliberate in your search. Remember, same zip code doesn’t always make the best group.

DIY MFA was a great resource for me. Even though I don’t have tons in common with everyone such as going to the same school or living on the same corner of the planet, we have the right things in common such as a mutual respect for the craft even if we write in different genres or take different approaches to the writing. We might even have different tastes, but we are open-minded about that and that is what is important.

Many experts will tell you there is one writing ideal, but that’s simply not inline with reality.

You might think you’re the only one in the world who wants to be a writer. If you feel that way, you definitely aren’t surrounding yourself with the right people.

You will find your group and your niche if you keep looking, if you learn how to stop being afraid, take stock of who you are, reach out and talk about your writing.

I started out slow and meandered my way here.

Moral of the story: Don’t be like me.

The Devil Is In The Details

Editor note: This is our first ever submission! Please note if you would like to submit something to be posted, please email me at amymarieayres@gmail.com and provide the article, your picture and a brief bio. Thanks!

Summer Storms. A coming of age story. One month in the life of a young man. First love, family secrets and growing up.

Story themes may be universal, but the Devil is in the Details.

Originally this story was set in the Canadian Prairies, July 2016; the year Pokémon Go was first launched. I wanted to relocate it to 2018. I didn’t have a reason, I just felt that 2016 seemed a long time ago. The weather in 2018 was consistent to 2016, Pokémon Go is alive and well; prairie life has not changed all that much.

But here’s a small but important detail. July 1, 2016 is a Friday. July 1, 2018 is a Sunday. Since my story follows each day of the month, Sunday brunches are now happening on Wednesdays. That just didn’t work, so we are back to 2016.

When you change the time or era, you create an entirely different story.

It would be exhausting to put this story in 2020. July 2020 looked very different from July 2016. Aside from the fact that July 1 is a Wednesday, I would have to rewrite every character, every scene, every interaction. People wear masks, they don’t hug, big family birthday parties are a no-no (And I have two in my story.) Covid-19 has changed the landscape of our entire world. Anyone who sets their story in 2020 will have to be very, very careful.

What if I wanted to set the story pre-1980? No one had cell phones. In fact, 30 years ago, my husband was the proud owner of the second cell phone in Manitoba. It was a big white brick, that weighed a least a pound. It came with a battery pack that was the size of a 2-slice toaster. No texting, no cameras. OMG! My characters would never survive in that world. (Shocked face emoji).

Let’s go farther back to the 1970s. The ME Decade. Even worse! Rotary dial phones, on the wall, in the kitchen. Your mom washing dishes and your dad watching Columbo, while you whisper-argue with your soon to be ex-boyfriend.

My main characters and their cell phones are like thunder and lightning. One would not exist without the other. I would wear out my delete and backspace keys to rewrite my story eliminating texting and selfies.

What if I were to take them back to 1901? They would have to know how to hitch up a team of horses to a wagon or carriage. My characters are very mobile. They drive or bus everywhere.  It would take them days, DAYS, to travel the 800 miles from their little village of North Creek to “the city”. Travel arrangements would have to be rethought.

How would they inform anyone of their impending arrival? We have now circled back to the telephone conundrum. There was only 235 miles of long-distance lines, strung from pole to pole, in Manitoba in 1901. My characters would be relying on horse drawn buggies and snail mail.

My story is definitely pre-pandemic. If I want to follow the baby-boomers into the 1980s, then I cannot have someone answer their cell phone on the dance floor of the local discotheque. After all, Studio 54 closed in 1980. I certainly can’t have my characters living in 1900, because they don’t know how to ride a horse or properly address a letter.

July 1, 2022 is a Friday. Who knows what the world will look like by then?


Brenda Rech has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, two dogs, three cats, a couple of birds and a turtle named Chew. Her flower gardens are forever at the beginner stages, as she would rather hike, canoe or snowshoe with my husband (and fellow empty nester). Her favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast.

Writing short fiction and working on her first novel. Brenda is a loyal “Word Nerd.”  She has completed the self-directed course DIY MFA 101 run by the awesome Gabriela Pereira and her team and is now working through P2P (Pixels to Platform) for the third time.

UPDATES!

Phew, sorry about being MIA. Life has been crazy.

I know you’re sick of hearing about it!

This week I plan to be pretty busy with The 2020 Philadelphia Writing Workshop: November 14-15, 2020 which is all virtual this year, which is great news for an introvert like me.

Lots of exciting developments, lots of pitching and learning and geeking-out over writing stuff, but for 2 whole days!

Working at DIY MFA has also been a fun, meaningful, and rewarding experience with some new developments on the horizon.

I am pretty solid this month with Nanowrimo too that I am doing alongside Writer Igniter Con 2020!

So yeah lots of new stuff!

And oh right, at some point I should be giving a virtual talk on Writing Across Genres which I plan on sharing with my audience too!

And speaking of my audience. I am doing a call for submissions!


This is the big surprise for those in the Facebook group and Newsletter list, that they can start contributing to the blog.


At the moment, we don’t have any strict guidelines for posting, as I trust my audience to be creative writers.

But as we grow the guidelines might get stricter.
It’s all a work in progress, but I am excited about this!

I will also be posting soon an article that was already submitted so stay tuned for that.

If you wish to submit, just email me at amymarieayres@gmail.com

The only guidelines at the moment are to try and fit into the three C’s

C-Creativity

C-Craft

and

C-Community

There is a lot of wiggle room in those first two categories, which include your creative works.

Again, email me with any questions and I look forward to your submissions!

#FunnyFriday

So let’s be real. John is everywhere right now promoting his new book: Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide. Pick up a copy if you like. I will be reading and reviewing it shortly, but for now I will touch on some the ideas he has been tackling in his various talks, not just on the news but in other forms of entertainment.

That is essentially why I have had the privilege to speak with him and see him interviewed by others on topics such as creativity, psychology, and of course Monty Python, all topics near and dear to me. Still, while he is marketing himself, I am learning something and I can appreciate that.

Last night I watched an event where he was being interviewed by Judd Apatow. He addressed this issue of play but of course delved much deeper. Thankfully, he does touch on it in the clip above so you can hear it from the source.

It’s an important subject I think I/we should tackle in this blog, on the newsletter, in the group, etc. etc.

One of the things that struck me during his interview between two FAMOUS writers with long resumes (maybe not your cup of tea, but you have to give them that) is that they say the same words I have heard MANY “amateur/aspiring/what-have-you” writers say.

That most of the time what they write is crap, but they keep going until they get to something good.

Judd talked about his tendency to freewrite but then come back to the page later on to “fix” it. What he comes back to is usually a mountain of garbage with one “nugget” of good in it.

John talked about how he and Graham Chapman would write together all week, they would usually have something good by lunchtime Wednesday (because they put in the work Monday and Tuesday) and then that would be the best thing they wrote all week. Nothing good on Thursday and Friday, rinse, lather, repeat.

Think about that. What is your good to bad ratio and how do you account for it?

As a writer myself, I’ve felt… different about my writing lately. I know that while I am doing many fulfilling writer-like things, I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination putting is as much “play-time” as I have in the past or would like to. Why?

Well, while often focused on the business of writing, I am finding myself struggling with the same things I am trying to help others overcome.

  1. The lack of the motivation to write.
  2. The lack of creativity and ideas.
  3. Feeling stuck and unsure of how to keep going.

Even with all the coaching, experience, and learning too. And guess what?

THAT IS ALL PART OF BEING A WRITER

So what are the solutions?

  1. Acknowledge this fact and be nicer to yourself.
  2. Yes, you suck. Everyone sucks. Sometimes you are good, sometimes other people are good. Let go of the need for perfection!
  3. Get yourself back to that place when writing was fun and felt like play.

When John described to Judd how everyone deals with this in one way or another, he mentioned the hemispheres of the brain. While this concept has become rather hackneyed, there is still some psychological merit to it.

It isn’t simply that the left brain is all excel spreadsheets and the right brain is a joy ride, or that the two sides never work together. When we confront how it is more complex than that, we begin to understand why we have trouble “playing” creatively.

When we look at the functions of both sides of the brain, as writers we begin to see how we need both sides to write “well” or even think about writing at all.

We obviously need a strong use of written, analytical thought and language, and ahem, especially if we are right-handed. But we clearly need the right side too for our insight, intuition, creativity, and imagination.

John touched on the idea that even as creatives, society often embarrasses us into living in our left side and faults us when we try to find merit for the right.

As writers, I think our intellect is a huge part of our ego, and so we try to assert our intelligence more than we do play and have fun with our writing. Does that make sense? Am I making sense? Do I sound dumb to you?

You see where I am going with this…

And worse when we write for an audience and try to force them into the driver’s seat, we lose all agency to play as well.

Like if a child is playing house and Dad comes along and says, “You’re doing it wrong Timmy, you need to be thinking about your mortgage payment while you scramble your plastic eggs.” The child loses all agency and reality sets in.

I will part on this thought, take some of that time John described just once next week. It can be on a Friday, or any other day that feels more conducive.

I’m not saying abandon your family and responsibilities.

But think of this as nature calling. Your brain is calling you to let it play. You always have time for the other call. Make time for this one!

And let me know how it worked out.

#Funny Friday

Psst…you want to learn how to write when you aren’t writing?

What?

Anyway, a recap. If you are reading this it means that you know that my husband and I ride his motorcycle on and off, which is seriously awesome 10/10 recommend it…

But I mentioned that I write while I am on the bike.

What I really meant was that because we aren’t talking to each other while we ride I am able to let my mind crawl anywhere it likes.

No, I don’t have a pencil or journal in hand, I’m not hanging off the back with a laptop strapped to me, but I am writing. Because I recently redefined what it means to write.

And you’ll be happy to know that it’s writing you could be doing right now…

But back to the bike. Today, as I took in the scenery of our small town, on the wide open road as we barreled down it, I was thinking. And my thoughts were LOUD. They always are on the back of that bike.

I let my mind fill with ideas, thoughts, and words. I let myself explore my brain in all the different directions it will go creatively, and I am not bound by things like schedules and word count.

So many forget that this is as huge part of writing. And IMHO it’s the most important part. And the most fun.

People don’t let themselves play with words anymore. They have to quickly create something tangible and market it. Yes, that is important to the business of writing, but if your writing is all business, it’s not fun anymore, Jack!

And you find you have become “a dull boy”.

And really think about how annoyed the creative bones in your body get when they don’t get any exercise and you say, not now later, not now later, not now later, over and over and over again.

So let your mind wander. Do it now.

And let me know how it turned out.

#Funny Friday

This great talk for both Frasier fans and writers alike:

This week, Will and Kie discuss (and ‘narrate’) the email interview they conducted with one of Frasier’s most beloved writers: Joe Keenan. Discussing his favourite episodes, actors, and behind the scenes trivia, this mini-episode pulls the curtain back on the show we love. 

Writing Your Origin Story

So since I run this page, you will see bits and pieces about me throughout.

Sometimes I will go on and on… (it’s for your benefit, I swear) But other times I want to just gloss over stuff.

Today I will do both, maybe, and just give you a rundown (using myself a guinea pig) of how to start writing your origin story.

I’m big on the origin story. I think it’s important to know where we came from the find out where we are going. It’s important also to make a list of our accomplishments, so we have something to stand on when we feel small.

So, without further rambling, here we go…

I was born on a rainy fall day in the early 80’s.

25 years ago I was:

Living not far from where I live now. I was just starting Junior High school and was terrified of bullies.

But I had also just started writing out some of that angst and was turning those notebooks into something that would later become part of my first novel.

20 years ago I was:

A chatroom junkie. Starting my first year of college. I was working at a radio station, taking creative writing, journalism and communications classes. I wasn’t motivated to get good grades (yet) and I had just started a job as a barista and met someone at that job who is still my best friend. I was making plans to move to California.

15 years ago I was:

Living on a mountain in San Diego with a bunch of crazy people. Experiencing daily culture shock. Buying my first car. My first semester at Cal State San Marcos after taking a gap year to get residency, I was introduced to teaching and started a teaching job for first year comp students and women’s studies minors. I was also writing volumes of poetry in secret.

10 years ago I was:

Married. Living back in my hometown (in Pennsylvania). On my third go around with college but much more serious about life. Deadly serious about everything and honestly not having a very good time. Working full-time and recuperating from a chronic illness. Not the happiest of times if I were to be totally honest.

5 years ago I was

Living in Michigan and ready to pack three bags and start my life over. I had started three novels and finished one and had one self-publication credit to my name. I wanted more. I was tired of writing taking a back seat.

So there you have it. Bits and pieces of who I am.

If you did this exercise, what would you discover about yourself?

Give it a shot.

Why I Was an English Major

If you know anything about me, you might know I’m not super enthusiastic about the state of higher education. I actually haven’t been a fan for about a decade or so, and yet, all of my whinging hasn’t made much of a difference. I’m not in a position to make those decisions, and make changes-and yet the arguments for what needs to change continues.

It was more than a decade ago that I left college. Which was much later than most of my peers, which had both to do with affordability and being a first generation (in my immediate family, a lot of people don’t know that).

But I finished, walked away with an English degree and honestly so much more than that (including lots of debt). These are some of the things my English degree afforded me.

  • Resentment toward the expensive liberal arts college that tried to gouge me financially.
  • A more than comprehensive knowledge of all American and English Literature pre-(and post)1950 (sigh).
  • Relationships with very interesting people who could do nothing for me networking-wise.
  • How to write creatively, critique, and teach writing.
  • Insider intel into how the collegiate system works and how it is very broken.
  • A stellar GPA that I built from the ground up. (we’re talking 2 whole points in 1 & 1/2 years)

If I look back on my college experience and had to paint you a picture, it would be arduous and difficult.

  • I would have to explain the dumpster fire that was my home and family life just as I started my first year.
  • I would have to explain why I went to 3 different colleges and attempted 3 different degrees
  • I would have to explain why I lived in 3 different states
  • I would have to explain why I was a Communications turned Liberal Arts turned Literature & Writing major with a Sociology minor turned English major who ended up teaching GWE & Women’s Studies and in an Improv Group (actually that part of the story is interesting and I will mostly like tell you more about that at some point).

But for the purposes of this post, I am going to explain why I was an English major.

I settled.

You read that right.

I did what I had to do with the options I was given.

Well, let’s back up. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the English major, but ask around and it would seem (depending on who you ask–this is important!) that it is the dumbest mistake a human being can make.

And at the time it seemed like the smartest. Financially that is. It was what I had to do to ensure I would finish in the shortest amount of time.

Because the reality of college in America is, it’s a lovely time, and you learn a ton (you do, honestly) but you can’t get a real job and go to school full time. And you can’t afford school at all if you don’t have a full time job. AND knowing that these “time management” issues exist for most people, (most) colleges don’t care.

  • They make you take classes certain times of the day and in an order that doesn’t make sense.
  • They punish you for wanting a well-rounded education, i.e. taking a variety of classes.
  • They make certain classes requirements for graduation, but then never make those classes available (?)
  • All the while, they keep taking your money.

I wrote about these issues a long time ago. I thought if enough people complained at the time, something would change. Look how that all turned out.

Anyhow, there was a point in time when I was actually enjoying myself. I was living in San Diego, California and I was going to California State University. I was getting a top notch education as far as state schools were concerned and I was paying practically nothing to go there.

Well, what seems like nothing now.

And the people there had one rule really, they said if you want to do something, just step up and do it. You want to TEACH HERE? There’s a classroom full of students, have at it. You want to help make decisions for the department as a whole, here join this group/ club. You want to read whatever you want and write whatever you want without boundaries? Hey, have at it.

You want to walk away from here with a well-rounded education including having studied basically every artform so you are more than just an English Major?

It was wonderful, but short-lived. If I could do it over, I would have stayed. But it wasn’t possible at the time for me to live so far away from everything I knew. And despite all the people I met and the things I learned, it wasn’t where I grew up and it was lonely.

Before I write you an entire memoir just about this phase of my life…I want to get to the point.

The point is, people put too much pressure on themselves to be a certain kind of person, or have certain credentials so they can do what they love. End of the day, I spent too much time waiting for someone to tell me I was allowed to do something that I was already doing.

I was doing it at 17 years old. If I could do it then, you can do it now.

So pretend you are going to Cal-State-Freewheelin’-U, and I am your professor and I say to you,

You want to be a writer?

Have at it.

Hey fellow writer!

Want some tips on writing productivity? Check out my #5onFri guest post for DIYMFA called Five Ways to Fit Writing into Your Busy Schedule.

Here’s the cold hard truth. You’re not “too busy” to write. There is a whole lotta other crap in the way.

And, brace yourself, you are also doing lots of things to waste the time you do have.

So it’s time to get real and wind up your writing life. (see what I did there)?

(What are ya doing reading this anyway-click the link!)

Free writing advice from John Cleese #FunnyFriday

First of all, you’re banished from this blog if you say “who is John Cleese?”

Although, I am fair-minded, I will give you a few hints:

“Tim”, Sir Galahad, and the Black Knight, just a few characters from the Holy Grail. Here are some other of his acting and writing credits to be fair.

Now that you know who he is…you can be jealous to learn that I had the ridiculous amount of luck to be face to face with him via Zoom (thanks COVID) and talk to him about writing, my experiences with Monty Python, and the Dunning Kruger effect.

Couldn’t stop laughing. Click the photo to see our conversation.

So before you yell at me for wasting the man’s time, know that he is well-versed in it as he admitted to me that he has dinner with David Dunning three days a week because they are good friends.

So what is the Dunning Kruger effect? I’ll wait.

All caught up? Cool.

Then there is:

So, now that you get where we are going this this. I asked the man…himself (because I am a huge nerd and I needed to have something to say instead of just giggling and drinking my nervous energy away) if he thinks that Impostor Syndrome is the opposite of Dunning Kruger and to my surprise…he said

“No!”

And among other things, he went on to explain that your job as a writer, artist, what-have-you, isn’t to get so good at things that you don’t think you’re good at them anymore or that you don’t deserve your success.

But to acknowledge what you are terrible at and keep doing it until you get subjectively “better”–which will probably be NEVER. *double pikachu face*

Everyone has blind-spots.

Ultimately, he said it is also important to surround yourself with people that are good at the thing you are not good at so they can remind you you are terrible at it but also how to do it right.

End of the day, it’s a good thing to be humble and acknowledge where your blind-spots are and always be looking to collaborate with other imperfect people.

So, there you have it. Advice from someone much much MUCH more experienced than I am, because really, who am I to be giving you writing advice?

I’ll work on that…