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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RTW: In Which I Tell you Merci Beaucoup

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This week’s prompt was: Who has helped you on your reading/writing/publishing journey?

So I might have mentioned it before, but my writing journey has been plagued with doubts and fears. I know I can write, but can I write well enough? When I was in college studying journalism, I took a course in narrative nonfiction, which was taught by this guy. Our first assignment: Write a narrative nonfiction story about something, some big issue that we could turn the microscope on as narrative nonfiction tends to do.

I headed to this tattoo parlor where I chatted with the owner and sat in on this really understanding woman’s tattoo. I wrote the article. And instead of having me complete any of the assignments that followed, my professor had me work on the article, doing additional reporting (me and the guys at the tattoo parlor got thisclose) and refining the article for publication.

That right there, that single act of believing my work was good enough to take out of the classroom and pitch newspapers and magazines made me realize I can do this. It was the moment I believed in my abilities as a writer. But it’s not the only thing that’s helped me in my publishing pursuits.

If I spent this entire post naming everyone who’s made this journey easier for me I might sound like an Oscar speech from—oh, I don’t know—a Best Sound Mixing winner. (Read: snoozefest) So I’ll just say this: You all have helped me.

My critique partners and beta readers have strengthened my work. My writing friends have kept me strong and positive that I can do this and helped me laugh along the way. The writing community has been kind and welcoming, making me realize even more that THIS IS WHAT I NEED TO DO. People whose blogs are gold mines of writing advice have strengthened my writing and, most times than I’d care to admit, helped me get over the fear that I’m doing something wrong. And authors, these people who are rock stars of the literary world, encourage me without even knowing.

(FYI to all authors: The little people, like me, kind of love it when you respond to a comment or tweet. It makes us feel like part of the community, and that’s invaluable in the otherwise solitary pursuit that is writing.)

I guess what I’m saying is that a single person hasn’t guided my journey, which is exactly what would happen if my life were a movie. (I can see the gruff but wise Sean Connery character now—or Joseph Gordon Levitt, depending on whether or not they use the whole mentor-turned-love interest angle.)

Cue the inspirational music.

Who’s helped you on your writing journey?

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