Do you think that writing would be something you’d like to do? But, you think you’re not “good.”
Look and listen…hey, can you tell I taught children?………anyone who writes is a writer. That doesn’t mean you are a best-selling author, but you’re a writer. If you can write as well as the average second or third-grader, you’re on your way. There are all sorts of writers, just like there are all sorts of cooks, basketball players and truck drivers. You improve with practice. You learn some rules. You get hooked to get better.
By the way…those best-selling authors? They rewrite and rewrite and they have people who help them. Those big-time authors—they are not perfect, either. Maybe there are a few perfect ones, but don’t worry about them.
When I was a little girl in North Camden, I loved to write letters to aunts and cousins in other states.. It was an acceptable thing to do, but no one said that I should be a writer. (Especially the recipients of the letters!)
I thought briefly of writing books, but since my last name began with W, I figured no one would borrow my books from the library. After all, even I was trying to read books from the children’s section of the Camden City Cooper Public Library starting with authors whose last names began with A. I abandoned that A to Z project, but I still worried no one would want to read my books.
I wrote in diaries and journals. My first husband found them and threw them away. My only censored work… I suspect he might have read the journal where I complained about his mother? Hey. You’re not supposed to read someone’s private journals and whatever I wrote was rather mild, I’m sure. I was not a mean person in my twenties. He swore he didn’t touch them, but they were in the same place for five years and then they disappeared?
Teachers and professors had liked my writing, but I thought that they were being kind. People asked me to correct resumes, term papers and essays and I did improve their work, but I never felt that I did it well enough.
I always liked to write, but I didn’t have much confidence in myself. However, I figured that I could improve so why not do it? I read books about writing—two of my favorite are Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Believe me, there are tons of books about writing and very good ones, but these two are among my favorites because they are down-to-earth, They are written by two very cool humans who became successful and who tell about how they started writing.
When someone called me from the Philadelphia Inquirer years ago to ask me to send pieces for the South Jersey Commentary page, I was so naïve that I asked them if I had to pay. I freelanced for the South Jersey Commentary page for some years, but I stopped because I thought that I wasn’t good. Someone even called me and asked me to resume, but I did not
Then, I joined a writing workshop (Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio under Alison Hicks) where I sweated bullets for a year because I was impressed by my fellow writers. But, I hung in there because I knew that in any group, someone has to be the least talented. I thought that okay, it can be me. I can be humble and I can improve.
Writing with friendly and generous people improved my confidence immensely. I know that I still have a long way to go, but writing every week with people who love to write has become an oasis for me. That sounds corny, but it is true.
So, if you think that you would like to write, don’t be shy and waste time. Everyone starts somewhere in everything. Write a page a day. Don’t criticize yourself. Soon you won’t be able to stop and you will love it.
If you are in the South Jersey area and you would be interested in writing in my Thursday group, look up my website: woodlandwriters.com. We meet in Cherry Hill.
Anyway, give writing a chance in an encouraging group. You won’t regret it.
Written by Marguerite Ferra
Who has to give herself a pep talk to take out her huge rough draft book in September, to rewrite, to have someone take a look at it and to get it out into the world…