Thursday, January 26, 2006

Writers--More Alike Than Different

I gave my workshop on Sunday in Sunnyvale, CA, to a wonderful group of writers. It was sponsored by the Southbay branch of California Writers Club and there was incredible energy in that room!

As I spoke and listened to comments and questions, I found myself thinking how we, as writers, no matter what we write, are more alike than different.

All of the issues surrounding characters in fiction apply to people featured in nonfiction.

All the issues of structure apply across the board.

All the issues of connecting with readers are important to every writer, fiction or nonfiction.

All of the issues of juggling writing time vs. the rest of our lives apply to every writer.

All of the struggles with self-doubt apply across the board.

If we are writers, we need to write. No matter what else we do with our lives, we will find ourselves writing. In our society, very often we aren’t rewarded for doing so or not rewarded well. Often others don’t understand what we do or why or just how difficult the process can be. Nor do they understand that incredible joy and satisfaction we feel when the words flow and we are able to put into words the images and stories and ideas in our minds.

Words have power. Like many published authors, I have letters and email written by readers whose lives I have touched. Some readers told me that my words, my book got them through some crisis in their life and made them smile at a time when they didn’t think they could. I have the memory of being called by an organization in Alberta, Canada to ask if they could give a copy of my article in Children Today about my son with Down Syndrome to every family in their program for small children with disabilities. I have the memory of people thanking me because they recognized, in one or another of my books, questions and struggles they had dealt with in their own lives.

One of the reasons I give these workshops is because I am passionate about the power of words. I am passionate about the difference we can make in our own lives and in the lives of others when we write. I also believe that if we are writers, then when we write we create a wellspring of something that we can draw on to cope with the challenges in our every day lives. When we write, we are building up our own resilience and creativity and ability to see the world in new ways and discover new solutions to whatever we face.

No matter what we write, if we are writers, fiction or nonfiction, literary or popular, we are more alike than different. Let us believe in each other and share our discoveries and challenges. Every success helps all of us and we never lose by cheering on others who share our love of words.