Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Building the Writing Life I Want

Several years ago, Heather Sellers (in her wonderful book Chapter after Chapter) reminded me to stop training for careers I didn’t want.  And I took that to heart.  When I think of some new venture I’d like to undertake, I ask myself, “Will this help forward my writing goals?”

I love radio, I have a background in journalism, so I’ve looked longingly at the WYSO Community Voices training every year when it comes up but resisted--partly because of my schedule at work and partly because it wasn’t clear to me how that training would help me forward my career as a writer.

But in 2015, I won a little essay contest (thanks TecumsehLand Trust) and part of the prize was to record my essay at WYSO.  Juliet Fromholt was my producer. I read it through in one go, and she said, “You’re good at this.”

“Thanks,” I said, “I’m a poet.  So much of what poets do is about reading aloud, I’ve had a lot of practice.”

“Oh,” she said, “I should put you in touch with Conrad. He sometimes needs people to record and produce Conrad’s Corner.

I could barely maintain my glee.  Conrad’s Corner, whoohoo.  I love that little bright spot of poetry that shines out of my radio every night at 7:59 ish after The World.  But I coolly said, “That would be great.”  Then I rushed home and composed an introductory/application email for Juliet to send to Conrad. 

And since early last year, I’ve been recording poems, sometimes producing the week’s poetry and recording the work of other poets for our little jewel of a poetry program.  When I go into the studio, I regularly lift my head six hours later and think, “Where did the time go?”

So, when this year’s call for applications came out, I asked myself if doing Community Voices would help me prepare for the career I want, the career of a working and published writer.  Would it help me  share my work with the world in hopes that we might all stop and remember the beautiful?  Would it help me communicate so that people could move away from the written word with renewed hope? This year the answer was, yes.  I sent in my application.

And ta, da.  Here was my answer.

I can’t wait to get started.  In the email, Will said, “It’s never too early to start thinking about story ideas,” and I thought, “How many stories will I get to tell?”

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