Writing (and Publishing) Again

My flash essay, “On the Eve of My Mother’s Dying,” appears in the September 2018 issue of Brevity, online today. This is my first published piece coming off of a ten-year writing hiatus (well, more like a submission hiatus), having been derailed by my career in commercial real estate.

Real estate has been great. I learned a lot, helped a lot of people, worked hard, and found enormous satisfaction in the fifteen years I was active in the business.  But it’s time to move on and this year, I’ve been easing my way out of real estate (although I am still working on a couple of deals and mentoring a few agents). Leaving something you’ve so enjoyed is hard.

Writing is hard too. In addition to working on short stories and essays, I’m teaching myself (with the help of some writing friends) how to write a novel.

Dinty Moore, Brevity‘s editor, has been wonderful to work with, so complimentary and respectful of writers and their vision when suggesting edits. Fifteen years ago, he accepted a piece of mine for the Fall 2003 issue. It seems fitting that my publishing re-debut should appear in Brevity too. Super excited!

Can I call myself a writer?

The question was recently raised by a writer in one of my critique groups, voiced with doubt and despair: I’m wondering, can I even call myself a writer?

I’ve been there. The writing isn’t going well. You’re mired in a muck of words or stalled somewhere in the middle. You can’t figure out your character’s motivation or if the scene you’ve spent months writing and revising even belongs in the story. You go from questioning the point of view to asking yourself how you ever believed you could write this story or even be a writer to begin with.

If you write, you are a writer. If you must write things down (what you see and hear, read and think) to figure out what they mean to you and how you feel about them, you are a writer. If you feel the need to preserve a thought, an observation, a sound, a reflection, a moment in time by putting it into words, you are a writer. If you can’t even look at something without sensing words forming in your head mentally describing it, you are a writer.

A writer is someone who writes, feels the itch and urge and necessity of writing. Someone who can’t imagine a world without scads of pens and notebooks and Word files filled with random thoughts and ideas existing.

That world is not always a pleasant place. As another writer friend so well articulated, it is often a grinding, hellish, painful place.