Blog | craft
November 24, 2016
Writing for a living can be scary, frustrating, exhausting, and just plain hard. And things like rejection or lack of support from the people around us can cause us to lose sight of all the wonderful things about writing. So, since Thanksgiving is a great time for meditating on good things: here are some of the things I'm most grateful for relating to writing.
I'm thankful for readers.
Without readers, writing can still be a wonderful pastime. It can help you make sense of the world around you and within you. It can help us work through pain. It can let us relive joy. But all of those things are heightened when you bring readers to the table. Readers make the things we write bigger, because the reader brings thoughts, loves, hates, and beliefs into the reading experience and that means the words I write, or you write, can expand beyond our imagination. And readers give us an opportunity to effect. There are few things I enjoy more than making readers laugh or scare them silly or making them think. Readers rock. I'm so glad to have them.
I'm thankful for editors.
Without the editors, I can only be as good as my own skill level will allow. Without editors, I'm not as clear or as bright as I am with them. Editors are the first people to ask us questions about our decisions. They are the first people to give us a taste of the writer/reader relationship. And I am completely aware of how desperately I need editors.
I'm thankful for illustrators.
I've had some amazing illustrators who had brought such incredible talent to my magazine stories and articles, my book covers, and my chapter book interior illustrations. The illustrators give the reader an extra way of getting into a story, a visual doorway. I never underestimate the value of that. I remember, as a little girl, sometimes poring over cover illustrations and teasing out the story clues contained in it. Illustrators are almost magical to me, the way they tell a story in visuals.
I'm thankful for the creative well.
Unlike a lot of writers, I don't often get asked where I get my ideas. But for me, story ideas come from dipping into a creative well that is partly filled by my life experiences and partly filled by the shared culture in which I live. This creative well helps my writing both be specific to me and also accessible to any reader diving into the story. Sometimes I seem to be where the ideas are practically lapping at my toes and dipping into them is super easy. Other times, I seem to be looking down a dark, dark well where I know the ideas are lurking, but it takes a lot of dipping and more than a little courage to draw up the bucket load I need for my work. But whether easy or hard, I'm grateful for that well. It's always been there for me.
I'm thankful for a rich writing history that I'm taking part in.
The amazing thing about writing is its timelessness. I can read books written last year, or ten years ago, or hundreds of years ago. This lets me connect with minds passed out of this world a long, long time ago; they left behind footprints dripping with the ideas from their own creative well. I can never see a single photograph of the Founding Fathers of the United States, but I can still read their words. I can still hear their passion and conviction and even mule-headedness. And compared to some of the writing I can read, those Founding Fathers are youngsters. Through reading, I can have my own time machine. And through writing, I can build the time machine for people in the future.
So writing is a fantastic gift and I'm thankful to have it, even when it's hard. Even when it's frustrating. Even when it makes me a teensy bit miserable. Even then, I’m thankful for this amazing thing. How about you? What about writing makes you glad?
Jan Fields is a full-time, freelance author and an Institute of Children's Literature Instructor. Would you like to have your own instructor teaching you on a one-on-one basis? Show us a sample of your work here.