Monday, September 20, 2010
WRITING FOR A LIVING
Like Sullivan when my work does not make it from my brain to the blank page, it remains, often untended and with no conscious effort on my part, continuing to grow. Sullivan writes that she believes "our worst nightmares, fears and insecurities are the product of those lousy weeds needing to go to the trash."
What does this mean for aspiring writers like me? Sullivan writes that her stories are" event-driven, an alter-ego, a character from an ongoing series, the memory of someone from my childhood or the man across the counter at a diner this morning." This is also true for me. For example, I am currently working on an article I hope to convince my local newspaper to publish.
Last year I interviewed a wonderful 92-year-old woman in my city named Millie Dunn Veasey. Veasey, who is black, had served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. She casually mentioned that one of her classmates died on board the battleship USS Arizona December 7, 1941 during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, HI. I have carried that bit of information in my brain for more than a year without understanding the impact of what she had said. I mentioned this young man, Mess Attendant Second Class Randolph Williamson Jr. in chapter one of my book. I even checked the Arizona casualty list and found his name. But, I did not connect the dots – this young man from my state may have been one of the first men to die in that war. More importantly, he may have been the first black man to die during World War II. This is relevant.
Thus, like Sullivan I had an idea that was event driven churning around in my mind but it would take time before that idea could make it to paper. The way Sullivan describes this process is that "the idea gets stuck in your brain, it becomes that germ and most of us, at least at the beginning, never know what we’ll get, a bouquet or a tangled mess."
Sullivan wrote about her feelings and experiences but she also described my writing journey and probably that of many other writers as well. Today Sullivan motivated me to write for my blog. Last weekend I completed a 1,000-word draft about my shipmate, Petty Officer Williamson and I am working on my query letter. Wish me luck and if you are an inspiring writer check out Sullivan's blog.