Follow by Email

The Myth of the Constant Writer

Writers write. At least, that is what I always thought. A writer is born, not made. From the time he or she can just barely form the letters of the alphabet, there are little sentences, tiny stories.
When I was a child, I read about Jo March writing in her chilly garret, crunching on apples and bending over a candlelit trunk. Anne Shirley also wrote stories and poems from the time she was adopted by Matthew and Marilla. These were fictional writers, but I also knew about Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter, the Bronte sisters, et. al., who wrote volumes as they grew up.
It was a given, then, that since I never really entertained stories in my head or kept even so much as a diary, that I was no writer.  Apparently I had a “knack” for putting words together, and I took to grammar like a duck to water, but that was all it was. I was a good student. I was organized. I had a big vocabulary, thanks to Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and their ilk.
There were no journals under my bed. No plotlines scribbled on pieces of notebook paper. I didn’t contemplate rewriting the endings of any of the many books I enjoyed. I was never once tempted to write “in the style” of one of my favorite authors. I wasn’t a writer!
I grew up. Got married. I had a career or two, raised two children, and experienced life as we all do: one task at a time. I read some terrific books, and I even enjoyed some trashy ones. But never once did I consider that I write one myself, trashy or not!  I wasn’t a writer!
My husband had a stroke, and I struggled to help him recover. The children left home. The dog died. Finally, there was retirement and all the leisure time that accompanied it. Boredom set in. A friend told me about blogging, and I decided it might be fun to start one.
Eureka. At the age of fifty, I discovered that I was, indeed, a writer. Not only did I have a lot to say, but it was the exact right time to begin speaking. It was as if the many strata of my existence were suddenly aligned to form what for me was the foundation of my “real” self. It took me a long time to feel confident as a writer. I never said the words “I am a writer” out loud. Real writers, after all, had been at it their whole lives. Real writers were born to write.
I kept at it because I loved doing it. But that old truism that “writers write” undermined me. Was I legit? It didn’t feel like it. I had no books, no magazine articles, no agent.
All it took was a contest. I had nothing to lose, so with one entry, everything changed. I had years of living under my belt, and I used my own family for inspiration. My age worked in my favor. My entry was recognized.
These days, after more than five years as a blogger and columnist, with one book published, I feel comfortable saying it out loud: “My name is Molly. What do I do? Oh, I am a writer. But I started very late.”
I make it a point to explain. Because writers don’t always write. For many of us, there is a life to live first. Then we begin our life’s work—as writers.
Molly D Campbell is a two-time Erma Bombeck award winning writer. She hosts her own intelligent and funny blog, as well as writing for the popular international web site "Moms Who Need Wine."
Her short story collection began as a Twitter stream of character names that she invented in her spare time, followed by a brief description: "Loretta Squirrels beats her husband and makes moonshine." Molly then decided to write a book about her characters. She teamed up with a fantastic artist to bring them to life. The book soon became an Amazon Pop Culture best seller.
Molly lives in Dayton, Ohio, the home of Erma Bombeck. Molly makes regular pilgrimages to Erma's grave--for inspiration and spiritual renewal. Molly also spends time petting her five cats and plugging her ears. Her husband plays the accordion.
Molly likes cake. She doesn't get to eat it much, because she has a slight pot belly.

Buy Now @ Amazon
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Molly Campbell on Facebook & Twitter

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I often call myself an "accidental writer." In school, I liked to write. In fact, I always scored better on essay tests. I loved the opportunity to express myself in writing - it always came out better than when I tried to express myself verbally. I kept journals only when I traveled. I was so worried my sister would find them and read them! I never thought I could make a living writing. I ended up getting my degrees in marketing and working in that field for 15 years. I did a considerable amount of writing in that capacity, but still, I never thought I could make a living as a writer.

    Since marketing is not a revenue-producing department, it's always the first to go. After what seemed to be a lay-off a year, I started to do some consulting. Then it became harder than pulling teeth to collect money from clients. It was time to do something new. It was time to reinvent.

    During the course of this time, I'd become very active in our local Greek community. I'd gotten involved in several organizations and did their marketing/PR. I'd gotten to know the staff at the local Greek newspaper. One day, the sports editor suggested that I write a column about things to do in Greek Chicago. I was game. He arranged a meeting with the chairman and co-chairman of the board. I was in. For several months, I wrote a bi-monthly column on Greek events in and around the city --- for free. Six months later, that same duo approached me, asked if I'd like to become the associate editor, to write for the publication, be on the payroll. How could I say no?

    I got married, had kids. It was the perfect part-time, flexible job for a stay-at-home mom. Then this little voice inside me began to nudge me. "Write more." "You can do more with this." After a particularly inspiring interview with a writer who became more like a mentor, I decided it was time. Soon I was also writing for a national publication. Since then, I have contributed to three books, guest posted a couple of times at www.harlotssauce.com, write a parenting blog, contribute fairly regularly to a quarterly magazine, and...I'm writing two books and adapting a short story into a screenplay.

    Of course, life does get in the way sometimes--in the form of health issues--but I will be back to work soon enough. I'm still working for that Greek newspaper, as associate editor and senior writer. It's my regular forum, my first love. I've garnered quite a following. I actually have fans! Ok, well, they are little old ladies, but they love what I do and encourage me. It's kinda like having a bunch of loving grandmas cheering you on in your life. It's all good.

    My writing has (hopefully) evolved over the years. I'm now in my eighth year with the paper. And you know what, it's only been in the last year that I have actually identified myself as a writer. When people asked what I did for a living, I'd say, " I work part-time for The Greek Star." (www.thegreekstar.com) Now I proudly say, "I'm a writer." Yes, I finally feel comfortable with that moniker. I guess I feel legit now.

    I wish you all the best with your writing. Here's hoping your muse stays a loyal friend!

    Be well,
    Maria

    ReplyDelete
  2. Molly is an inspiration! I had professors tell me that I wasn't a good writer. Now a dissertation, 3 articles, and a blog later, I feel confident telling everyone that I am a writer, too. Not bad for a girl from Xenia! Loved reading your story, Molly!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My goodness Molly, your story is so close to mine! Except for having leisure now...I haven't quite got to that phase yet but I sure do look forward to it! Loved the post!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Molly, you have put into words precisely what derailed me from writing for so long. I was always a writer, when I had something to say.

    After *recovering* (relatively speaking) from being a single mom, I started to write a novel about that...it sat unfinished, and is now long gone. And after *recovering* from a six year battle with infertility (my daughter is 26, my son is 10), my son was about five and I started to write a novel about that. It, too, sat unfinished for about three years. But I knew I had something this time. I protected it, backing it up, carefully making sure it moved from one computer to the next. And then we left my quaint, picturesque hometown in Michigan to live in San Diego for two years. I was shaken to my core. My daughters (step-daughter is 24) were in New York and Florida, and I had no friends, no family, no backup. There was only me, at home with my son, and a husband whose very essence was sucked out of him from the job we'd moved for, that almost killed him (well, my misery didn't help my poor husband).

    After the first year, I finally began doing the things I'd told myself I would do in San Diego. I took creative writing classes. I, too, started a blog and got featured very quickly on BlogHer, twice. With that success, I bravely submitted an essay for a BOOK, and it got accepted! 51%: Women and the Future of Politics should be out yet this year. The editor liked one of my featured posts from BlogHer so much, she adapted it for inclusion with my submission in the book, and I was just named as a #BlogHer13 Voices of the Year Honoree for that same post!

    All of this is truly remarkable over the course of a year and a half...but I'm even more proud that I'm actually working on Bluebirds, my novel about a woman dealing with infertility, that I intend to finish and pitch this year (shooting for the Chicago Writers Conference in September), which is right across the lake from where I sit back at home in Michigan.

    Single motherhood derailed me from any college, which was always my excuse for not reaching for more. If I hadn't been forced to examine who I was without all the other *life* that goes on, I may never have been able to call myself a writer either, even though I always knew in my heart of hearts that I was one. But I never was a journaler either. Nice to meet you Molly, I'm a late blooming writer, too!

    --Kim Jorgensen Gane

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.

Featured Post

Featured Post

Featured Post