January 17, 2012

I Am A Writer. Are You?

Gary is honored to relinquish today’s Tune-In Tuesday to a brilliant Southern writer and good friend of the magazine, guest poster Barbara Ragsdale. 

by Barbara Ragsdale

I listened to the speaker open his workshop about how to get published.  He laughed, cajoled, and then suddenly brought the group up short.  “Repeat after me, I am a writer.”  We stared in shock before making a timid reply that couldn’t be heard beyond our feet. 

Not satisfied, he asked again and again until the noise level rang with confidence.  “I am a writer,” I thought proudly.  Suddenly, a melody by Mendelssohn popped into my head, “O, rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, and He shall give thee thy hearts desires.”

There it was—an action plan that didn’t require anything but “patient waiting and ultimate trust.”  I could do that … at least the waiting.  A little short on ultimate trust; it’s a work in progress.  Wait and trust, what a goal.   

Whoa, Nellie!  Who’s going to do the writing?   The last time I remembered the Lord doing any writing was the stone tablets with all the “Thou Shalt Not’s”. I was left with a big responsibility.  With time and experience I’ve discovered the secrets to making this collaboration work:

  • Be prepared.  Ideas can be spontaneous and fleeting.  If you’re not ready, then the chance of remembering that moment of inspiration gets lost among the grocery items on the shopping list.

  • Wait patiently, but write.  What an opportunity to procrastinate.  The excuses are numerous. The most compelling is obvious—it won’t be perfect. News Flash!  Mistakes are the way to learn.  Sentences become paragraphs, paragraphs equal a whole story.  Story development needs both thinking and writing.

  • Writing is rewriting.  Revisions help make the writing tighter, more coherent.  Be ready to capture that flash of completeness with pen and paper close by.

  • Do it rather than dream it.  It’s like any goal.  The reality begins with the effort.  Negative voices have to be ignored. Inner faith provides the energy.  Learn the difference between when a story needs work to be better and someone else’s criticism that it will never be good enough.  All writers have the same tools—words. The creative voice comes from how each writer arranges them.

Therefore, I rest in the Lord, but keep my pen and paper handy. Maybe you should too!

Barbara Ragsdale is a writer, editor and aerobics instructor, whose published works include the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers.

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