Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Passion of Both Writing and Teaching

                                                                      An early morning realization
On being a writer and a writing coach 
This morning I had an inspiration to write about the writer's journey from a somewhat different perspective. I was thinking about how dearly I love both writing and teaching. And I realized that, after a lifetime of passionate writing, I enjoy coaching writers and leading workshops as much I do writing.

My own writing life has never been just about writing fiction. I've always been a keen observer of my process. The teacher in me was always watching and learning and journeying with me! Perhaps she knew long before I did, that her time would come.

For over thirty years, I've been helping others navigate the often tumultuous waters of the creative process, then standing back and, with joy and pride, watching the brave ones take off and fly!

Flying is really how I've experienced my writing...
soaring above the confines of my physical self into other realms, other experiences of being and other landscapes that expanded, challenged and changed me -- all for the better!

Which doesn't mean being a writer is an easy journey. On the contrary! I think writing is as risky as sky diving, psychically that is. It asks us to journey into the unknown. It asks us to give ourselves over to characters and mysteries that we didn't even know lived within us. Then it asks that we be a fool for love — love of our great passion for writing.

What fuels this great passion?
I believe as writers we have an insatiable hunger to explore the human condition, and we explore it all: folly, brutality, tenderness, love, sex, death, toil, the broken heart, the lost opportunity, the heroic and the courageous, the cowardly and mean spirited, the beautiful and the ugly, god and the devil.

We want to make sense of this strange journey called life; we want to find the resolution that often slips through our fingers. We want the human spirit to triumph! We do this through all kinds of writing: mainstream, memoir, humor, thrillers, children's, chick lit, detective stories, fantasy, horror, science fiction...

Writing is a leap of faith
Because this is so primal to my passion for writing, I work with writers who sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, are willing to take the leap of faith into the unknown. This leap is difficult, and the journey demands great stamina. Writing takes time — writing, tossing away, rewriting, tearing out one's hair, laughing, crying, dancing, taking long naps...

So, I'm asking you to take a journey that I myself have taken, and onto which I've led countless others. The path inward is well trodden by the millions of creative people who've journeyed before us. Sometimes we need a light to show the way, and a tool bag that makes the going easier. For those of you who have worked with me and will work with me in the future, I hope I can be that light and carry that tool bag, until you're ready to shoulder it yourself.

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  1. Emily, if you're not the Emily Hanlon who's been leaving angry comments on my blog, just ignore this. You have a great blog. That's interesting stuff about the Glastonbury retreat. Sounds lovely.

    If you are the one who's made the comments, I'd like to let you know that "Miss Snark" was a tongue-in-cheek pseudonym for a very successful and high profile literary agent who has a stable of bestselling authors. She prefers to keep the Snarkives anonymous because some of the scamsters were being difficult. But she is well respected in the publishing community, adored by her clients, and one of the leading lights of one of New York's top agencies. She knows what she's talking about. Really. Don't ever pay a reading fee!

  2. @Anne R. Allen

    I am definitely not the Emily Hanlon who made the comments!

    I don't know about Miss Snark. She sounds interesting!

    And the Glastonbury Retreat is lovely, inspiring and amazing... really, I'm not being self-agrandizing. Glastonbury is a wild, mysterious and wonderful place!

  3. Oh, I'm so glad. I love the energy of this blog and I would have felt bad knowing there was that kind of anger lurking. Who knows, the troll who's been commenting on my blog may not be named Emily Hanlon at all. She posted as Anonymous and then signed your name in the body of the post.

    I googled the name with "writer" and found you.

    I'm thinking of blogging about the late great Miss Snark in the next few weeks. "Miss Snark" was a blog written by a well known literary agent trying to educate the great unpublished out here in the ways of the publishing world. She also did a great service warning against scams and bogus agencies. I often quote her when I'm warning my readers about scams. Somebody's going through my archives and leaving trollish anti-Snark messages on posts that quote her. Kind of creepy. Probably some scammer she busted.

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