Friday, July 29, 2011

Pleasure vs. Work

I’ve never really looked into what a writing coach does. It never crossed my mind to inquire. A couple of years ago when I got really serious about writing, I had a well-published writer with whom I was acquainted tell me that I should be a coach.

That was the first time I heard of such a position and I certainly didn’t feel qualified for it. I’d just started in this crazy business that so many of us struggle with. I couldn’t believe that what I’d been doing during our association was anything other than friendly encouragement and suggestions.
I'm one of those who gets a high from brainstorming some one's plot, or creating characters from thin air, or floating ideas that may never come to fruition, but sound  good in that moment. Let my imagination run wild and I'm a happy camper.

And no, I haven’t taken the title of Writing Coach for the shingle hanging outside my office.

I guess what I’m feeling my way toward is the fact that what seems only common courtesy and helpful information sharing also seems to be the activities that designate an actual professional job.

Case in point: when I’m looking at markets for possible sales for my own work, I carry with me a mental image of those writers whose work I know and whose talents I admire. These are writers whom I’ve been associated with for a few years; some may still be struggling toward publication, others may have sold numerous pieces.

If I come across a market that could mean a sale for one of these other writers, I take note of the link and the market needs and send the writer an email to that effect. Most of the writers I converse with on a regular basis are children’s writers. Sometimes finding a market can be devilishly difficult in a shrinking marketplace and it helps to have more than one pair of eyes scanning submission guidelines for possible matches.

It always takes me aback when the recipient of my email replies with profuse thanks as to my thoughtfulness. It makes me wonder if I’m the only one who does this. I’m not a fairy godmother dispensing markets to starving writers willy-nilly. I’m passing on information to friends who might be able to use it.

It makes me feel good to be appreciated, but that appreciation wasn’t my motivation. I just can’t understand why anyone would squirrel away a market in hopes no other writer will come across it and thereby elevate her own chances of making a sale. That is simple greed to my thinking.

I suppose I got spoiled when I began writing in earnest because my first pond of endeavor was children’s writing. And those I came to respect, appreciate, and associate with as friends were children’s writers. The group I fell in with, at ICL’s Writer’s Retreat, holds some of the most generous and caring individuals I’ve ever had the privilege of spending time with.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to play on the Retreat right now. I have too many projects in flames, on burners, drowning, or otherwise needing my attention. It’s all I can do to find some concentration time to create new poetry, which has become another passion for me.

Those dear friends of near every age and experience level over at the Retreat still sit in the background of my days. I can hear their imaginary conversations and satirical asides as I work at the keyboard. I smile when I think of the family they’ve created at that little café along Main Street in a small town that floats on the dreams and aspirations of its patrons.

Writing coach? I don’t think so. I don’t feel I’ve been in the business long enough to really have that much to contribute to such a position. Encouraging writing friend? You betcha. If I can help, I take time for it. If I have information, I pass it on to someone who might be able to use it.

And there you have my writing philosophy for today. It’s as simple as: if you’re willing to allow others to read your words, you should also be willing to help others get their words out. One person’s view makes for a very narrow and lifeless picture. Help create the biggest picture you can.

Until later, peeps,



  1. Hugs, Claudsy. We miss you, over there in our little world. Did you know Hardt is now in charge of an army of zombie bunnies? Not to worry, though...

  2. Aw, thanks, Kate. There is much I miss about the Retreat. right now, though, I have so much clinging to life on my desk that playtime at the zoo just isn't an option for me.

    Please give my best to all. Do a few crits for me in the next few days. I'd been hoping to paticipate this month, but no luck. I even had the perfect vehicle but couldn't find the time between writing and study to get it ready.

    Take care, sweet Kate. Hope to see you all soon.

    And tell Hardt to keep that army of bunnies away from my house. I have enough to worry with without zombie bunnies.