Monday, March 23


Several years ago I set five goals for my writing: write, polish, learn, attend, and send.I’m a prolific writer so the first goal wasn’t a problem. I’ve always got a pen and paper—or laptop—in my hands. The second goal, polish, was a challenge. I’m a perfectionist and felt my work was never at its best. With the help of other writers, however, I learned that polishing a story, article, or novel is just that—polishing. Polish, by definition means to buff up. When I spray furniture polish onto my piano, it doesn’t automatically shine. There is, in fact, a dull residue which only after lots of elbow grease—buffing up—begins to yield results.

I began to understand that though my writing starts out needing lots of work to make it shine that doesn’t mean I am doomed to fail. It only means I need to work until I get the results I want—just like polishing the piano.

For me that was a great realization—a blessing.

Since fifth grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I just didn’t know it was okay to work at making that dream come true. When I was young I wrote with enthusiasm, then I followed my mother around reading my work. Her response was constantly harsh and to the point: “Lori, writing is not your forte.” She didn’t believe I could become what I dreamed of being, and she feared I’d embarrass myself; her fears became mine.

It took a long time for me to start believing in myself.

Knowing it was alright if my words didn’t shine the first time I wrote them, or when I rewrote them the second time, or even the third, I came to the realization that I could help myself by striving to learn more about writing in general. I began to read more, books on writing and books in the genres I wanted to pursue, thus helping myself meet my third goal. Attend, fourth on the list, involved writing classes and being part of critique groups. I met lots of other writers and would be writers who shared dreams and goals similar to mine.

I become conscious that early on in my life I’d been lead to believe that writing—being a writer—was something you either could or could not do, like walking or talking. When I understood that (just like playing the piano with any degree of proficiency) becoming a writer takes time, effort, and practice I was able to let go of old fears and enjoy the process of becoming.

The last item on my list, send, became easier as well. I analyzed, versus agonized over, rejection letters and resumed polishing before I again sent my work out. In time my efforts paid off. I found many opportunities and enjoyed writing for the newspapers and magazines that asked for my work; it felt good to have my articles, short stories and essays—my own words and feelings—appear in print.

But there was something more, something I dreamed of for a long time: I wanted to write children’s books and novels.

Gathering courage amidst continued opposition, both interior and exterior, I set out once more with my five writing goals. I still have a long road to travel but I enjoy being on that road, grateful to know it's okay to do more than just sit by the wayside and wish.


Danyelle Ferguson said...

Fantastic post. It seems like we writers just keep repeating those same goals over and over and over and over . . . I just never ends. :)

Lori Nawyn said...

Thanks, Danyelle. No, it never ends, but what a wonderful journey!

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