I have set a retirement date for my job as an instructor of English at a local technical college, and my spouse demands I have a hobby or volunteer work before I retire. Apparently, a recliner and TV remote do not a retirement make.
My life-long dream has been to write full-time, so I have chosen to devote my time in retirement to writing. I have also decided not to teach summer semesters again, and I have spent this summer writing. It has been exhilarating to have time to write.
I have dipped in and out of writing since I was twelve, sitting down every ten years or so, serious each time, producing a few pages, maybe a short story, only to get bogged down in life’s demands, fear of failure, or lack of dedication. Life seemed to push aside any time to write. Relationships, education, jobs, and, of course, procrastination gave me many excuses. But this summer I had no excuses and a lot of time.
One of my writing tasks was to organize the writings I have produced over the years. Examining this material led to many pleasant surprises. I found several attempts to start a novel I’ve been wanting to write since I was twenty-two and numerous short stories I had forgotten that I wrote as well as fragments of stories left unfinished. In all those pages of my life, I found some well-crafted sentences, paragraphs, and even pages, something to revive now.
I also convinced myself join a writer’s workshop to force my writing from the eyes of a private circle of family and friends to those of the unattached and unrestrained public. This step has been beneficial as I have been given constructive and much needed advice and have learned to look at my writing from new perspectives. Among many lessons, I have learned how to focus my paragraphs, how to anticipate a reader’s needs and wishes, and most importantly how to truly revise. Joining the Columbia II writer’s workshop is one of the best decisions of the summer.
The freedom of summer has ended, and I still feel the urge to write after being very productive over the past three months, writing and revising two short stories and finally figuring out how to write that novel. I wonder if I can maintain an acceptable level of productivity now that I’m teaching again. I believe the writer’s workshop will provide accountability and deadlines to keep me on track, maybe the most valuable aspects of joining the workshop.
It’s easy to say that a writer should write every day; it’s quite difficult at times to make that a reality. This summer I have learned that writing inspires more writing, and when not writing, thinking about writing will lead to putting words on paper.
Now, I know a writer focuses intentionally on the task of writing, regardless of distractions.