“are you a writer?”

The guy at the UPS Store asked me this question (I was using UPS to send some photos to my publisher because PSAC members at Canada Post are on strike).

I looked around to see to whom he was speaking.

Then it dawned on me.

“Yes, I am.”

Or at least I’m working on believing it.

I’ve mentioned before that I have been meeting with a coach since last January. Joyce has a Masters in Education and is part therapist and part life coach. She works with lots of struggling artists and writers, many people currently working in the labour movement and several cancer survivors.

I have always made my living with words but this year I pledged to begin to think of myself as a writer. This need for this had become acute as I relinquished the sense of identity I had derived from full-time work and as the struggle to stay alive had (thankfully) moved the back burner.

With Joyce’s input and guidance, I established three goals for this year:

I wanted to finish my book. I am proud to say that I accomplished this (although it never seems to be quite done and I am currently reviewing the copy-editing). I could not have done this without Joyce.

I wanted to build links to other younger people with cancer and spread the word that many of us are living long and well with metastatic breast cancer. I feel really good about my contributions to this blog, Mothers With Cancer, BlogHer and MyBreastCancerNetwork.Com. I also attended a wonderful conference, organized by Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

This networking has gone so well that I burned myself out a little. I have taken a step back of late.

My third goal was to write fiction. I started by playing around a little with my “morning pages” (which I don’t always write in the morning). I read and did exercises from several great books (Writing Down the Bones, The Artist’s Way, Bird by Bird and The Writer’s Path).

Joyce suggested that I needed a writing group and it dawned on me that I could start one. I’ve done that.

Joyce suggested that I should sign up for an online writing course that would give me some progressive assignments to work on. I did some research and registered for one called “I’ve Always Wanted To Write Fiction.” We are in week four and I am up to date on my assignments.

I am not thrilled with what I have produced so far but I am proud that I have done it. My prose still seems stilted and pedestrian but I am putting my toes in the water. Everything I have read tells me that art takes hard work. I may not be Virginia Woolf (or even Sue Grafton) but I can make art for its own sake. And mine.

And as I re-read this blog post, I realize that I have come a long way this year.

Cross-posted to Not Just About Cancer.


2 Responses to “are you a writer?”

  1. Good for you!!!

    You are totally amazing!!

    I hope to follow in your footsteps…. 😉

    One of my goals is to write a book. But, really, I have at least three or four books that I want to write.

    I keep thinking, if I ever want to really write them, I better get started now!

  2. francesbarrie says:

    Congratulations! I have been writing a book for a few years now and trying to get my essays published. It is hard work. One thing I learned through ‘Grub Street’ — a writing collaborative in Boston where I take writing classes and seminars –is that the first step to becoming a writer is stating clearly to everyone that you know, “I am a Writer.” Once you say it , it is true. It must be even greater to have someone else recognize you as such. I wish you great luck with all your goals.

    ps. Bird by Bird is my bible

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