Back Again

I’ve been put to shame.  Last weekend, I had the privilege of judging entries in flash fiction for the the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The program, almost a hundred years in existence, solicits and awards the efforts of young writers and artists in seventh through twelfth grades. Some notables who were recognized throughout the program’s history are:

  • Truman Capote (1932)
  • Andy Warhol (ca. 1945)
  • Sylvia Plath (1947)
  • And even Robert Redford (1954) and Zac Posen (1998)

While a range of student writing abilities were observed, I was blown away by many of the entries. These young people demonstrated an incredible talent for building a compelling story within the constraints of flash fiction. Their skill and creativity assures me a number of them will provide me with reading companions in a not too distant future.

Why am I ashamed? Well, they most certainly devoted a significant amount of time to writing in order to produce the fine work that they did. I do not.

I am reminded everywhere that if I want to write, I have to devote the time to writing. Stephen King’s On Writing bluntly tells me that if I don’t give the time – then don’t write; among many good tips I’m given in my critique groups, from Bob M. among others, I’m nagged about not making the time for writing; and every little webinar or article I read chastises me for my lack of commitment to the time needed to build this craft. I’m amazed at how I can ignore all of that and fall back on my well stocked hoard of excuses.

After all, I have spent most of my adult life making those excuses

1)  When I was raising kids on my own and working full-time: “I want to write but when am I supposed to find the time?”

2)  When my kids were older and I was working full-time: “I write all the time, scenarios for my students’ science investigations, education journal articles,… Just when am I going to get time for creative writing for me?”

3)  My kids are raised, I’m retired working part-time: “I want to write but I have this big house that’s a mess. When am I supposed to have time to write?

Well, let’s see:

1)  Think:

JK Rowling  and  Mary Higgins Clark

2)  Think :

         Ayn Rand – a tour guide and movie extra among other things;

         F. Scott Fitzgerald – wrote slogans for trolley car placards and fixed roofs of train cars 

         J.D. Salinger – failed at being an apprentice in a Polish slaughter house (so he could go into the family business).  He came back to America and worked as an activities director on a Caribbean cruise line.

3)   Really?  Take a look around – I still see a big mess.

Recently, on-line, I read an article by  Joseph Finder*, a prolific writer and author of The Fine Art of Feedback. The title of the article?  Just Write the Damned Book Already.

“Okay, Joseph, I hear ya’,” Judy said hopefully.

(Sorry, Mr. King, about the adverb. But I did say “said” instead of “acquiesced”. Can I get points for that?)

* I enjoyed this article, you may, too. Go to: