Writing is a hard business. It’s solitary and lonely, as we need a fair bit of silence in order to focus our minds on the words we string together. It can be frustrating, even maddening, as those words at times play hiding games on us. It is a demanding taskmaster, forcing us away at times from the people around us who define, support, and otherwise color our lives. It is a full time job for so many of us already have full time occupations to keep a roof and walls around us and food on our tables.
Why do we put ourselves through such torture, not once, but on a regular basis?
We write because our hearts and minds demand it. We have stories we need to tell, whether in the form of fiction, poetry or prose, or nonfiction, memoirs or journalistic exposes, pieces that illuminate or inspire, not necessarily in a faith way, although it takes a great deal of faith of sorts to keep us on the path we have chosen. Something in life has impacted us and we are compelled to share what we feel.
Every time I participate in an author event I go in with a thought in mind no as to how many books I want to sell. Sometimes I reach my sales goal; sometimes I don’t. Along the way, though, I also always realize another goal: I make excellent contact with readers and with other writers.
Every author I come across is worthwhile and unique, and a pleasure to get to know. This year at the Dublin Ohio Irish Festival I came across three new writers in particular who have completely blown me away. Colin Broderick, Greg McVicker, and John Sexton each brought with them their memoirs of growing up in various parts of Northern Ireland during the 1960s through 1980s, when The Troubles in that region were particularly volatile. They tell stories that are sometimes very painful, always very real and powerful, but told at times with such wit and humor that you will find yourself crying and laughing at the same time.
Their stories are hard. They are vital though, needing to be told, and relayed by three very courageous people with deep hearts and incredible talents. As I read their words I came away with my third gift from this particular outing, that of catching the vision of where my own writing needs to head next, not in the way of telling my life’s story, but in reaching for a higher level with my writing. I believe in my writing as is but, like anything in life, I always strive to improve. Colin, John and Greg have each given me a new standard to reach for in my own writing. The way they frame their words and phrases, the heart and spirit they capture, is of the highest quality. I am both humbled and inspired in reading their books.
Look their books up: That’s That and Orangutan by Colin Broderick, The Big Yank by J.P. Sexton, and Belfast Child by Greg McVicker. And keep an eye on my own novels and poetry books to see where the writing journey leads me next!