Tag Archives: Help

Thank All Of Your Writing Mentors.

14 Mar

After yesterday’s blog post Does Music Help Your Writing¬†generated so much feedback, I thought I’d stick with the topic of writing for today’s post as well. However, I don’t want to focus on just writing, but mainly how certain people have impacted your writing…and the different ways that they have helped you broaden your writing experience. I’ll start with some of the writing mentors I’ve had over the years.

  1. My seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Trish: Though I enjoyed writing before I took Mrs. Trish’s English class, the belief in my ability grew when I entered her classroom. Not only did she encourage me to keep on writing, she helped me realize that I could use writing as an outlet, as a way to escape when reality became too painful. She was also the first person (other than my parents) who told me that I had “a gift.” Hearing that from someone other than my parents was a huge turning point. I remember when I let Mrs. Trish read the first article that I ever got published (Writing To Survive). She cried, telling me how proud she was of me and how she knew that one day I’d truly impact the world with my writing. I didn’t remember some of the great advice she gave me until reflecting on what I gained from her in terms of my writing, but I know that she was the one who first really supported me (besides my parents) in my love of writing. To this day, we still keep up, but not as much as I’d like since college keeps me busy.
  2. A previous co-worker, Mike: In my junior year at Salem, I interned at the Columbia Star (and wrote the article “Writing To Survive,” mentioned above). One of my co-workers there, Mike, had a huge impact on me and my writing. I interned at The Star for three weeks, and while I was there, Mike was constantly picking at me. Not in a mean way, but in a way that solidified our mentor-mentee relationship. When my internship was over, Mike wrote me a letter (that is still one of the most honest portrayals of what it means to be a writer I’ve ever read) and gave me Stephen King’s book,¬†On Writing (which has been extremely helpful through the process of writing my book). I met Mike back in 2009, and I’m happy to say that we keep up a regular email correspondence, which I’m grateful for. He is one of those writers who I know will give me completely honest feedback on my writing. He knows what I’ve been through, and so he also knows that I can take the criticism, especially since he also points out that the criticisms he gives me come from his heart since he wants to see me grow as a writer and a person.
  3. My AP English teacher, Dr. Cahill: Between my internship with The Star and the start of my freshman year at Wofford College, I took a hiatus from writing. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have people supporting my writing. Dr. Cahill is one of the teachers that I’ll never forget. She loves what she teaches, and she makes that known to her students. Though I didn’t do much personal writing during my senior year (since I had so many other responsibilities like college applications and being the editor-in-chief of my school paper), I still had support. For every literary analysis that I wrote in AP English, I went to see Dr. Cahill in order to get her feedback before turning in my final draft. Though she knew that I was an anxious student, she always made a point to try to lift me up. I remember one day when I was in her office she said: “Amelia, you’ve got to believe in yourself a little more. You’re a great writer. Can’t you see that?” It was in that moment that I realized how hard I was being on myself as a writer. To this day, I’m still hard on myself in terms of my writing, and I think it’s something that all artists face when trying to express themselves. However, having Dr. Cahill point it out to me was an important realization in terms of growing as a writer.
  4. My Freshman English teacher, Dr. Cox: Beginning in August of 2010 (my freshman year at Wofford College), Dr. Cox had a huge impact on me. She’s a writer herself, and one of the truest writing professors that I’ve known. I remember one specific assignment we were given during the fall semester of 2010. The assignment was to write a short story in which we held a specific belief and then over time our position/opinion changed regarding this particular belief. I put a personal spin on my story. I wrote about how as a kid I thought that I only had friends because I thought they pitied me. This opinion changed when, in seventh grade, I befriended my first true friend, Lauren. She showed me what it meant to be a true friend, and she helped me realize that I shouldn’t automatically jump to the assumption of pity when it comes to friends. Anyway, Dr. Cox helped me so much with this story. After a short conversation with her after class, I realized that she knew me better than I knew myself. I remember the end of that conversation because Dr. Cox said: “Amelia, writing isn’t true unless it costs you something,” and I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget that. In my case, this meant showing my vulnerability to Dr. Cox as well as my English class, and I was scared. However, I got positive reactions from my classmates, and on future writing assignments I noticed that my classmates were sharing stories that were more personal for them. One day, I came out of class smiling because after having numerous classmates share personal stories, Dr. Cox pulled me aside and said: “It’s because of you, Amelia. You broke down the wall of fear that people had built around their personal experiences and made it known that it was okay to share them.” That is something that will always stick with me because it’s a reminder that my words have the power to impact others around me.

I have no idea where I’d be without these 4 people. Well, yes, I do. My writing wouldn’t be as developed as it is at this point. I wouldn’t have grown so much over the last few years. Thankfully, I still correspond with all 4 of my writing mentors, and every day I am happy to have their support and love. As writers, we all need guidance, whether we care to admit it or not. As it turns out, the people who guide us may be some of the most influential people in our lives, because they’ve taught us not only what it means to express ourselves, but how to look within ourselves to find our true inner voice. I know from experience that it can take a while to find your inner voice, but once you’re able to find it, a strong and life-long connection to creativity, and ultimately, to ourselves and those around us, emerges.

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The Writing Has Begun.

1 Feb

For all of you who read my post last Thursday on thinking of writing a book, thank you. Also, thank you for all the suggestions and advice that I received! That being said, I’m proud to announce that I began writing my book on Monday night. Many of you just suggested I start writing. Not focusing on much of anything other than getting the words out. Honestly, I thought this would be harder. I’ve always had trouble getting started on things, but the words just seemed to come as if they had been needing to get out for quite some time. It’s such a freeing feeling.

Anyway, on with the book. I’ve settled on writing a book focusing on how it is possible to overcome obstacles and still manage to love your life. I’m planning on it being inspirational nonfiction (written in first person), especially since I’ll be constantly reflecting on my own experiences when giving others advice on how to overcome big obstacles in life. I’ve used the majority of my “Sense of Belonging” post as a sort of prologue, and the title of the first Chapter is “You are not alone.” (No other hints though. Sorry!)

I’ve written 3 pages so far (including the prologue) and I can’t wait to see where this takes me. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from friends and family, some of which have said: “Finally! I’ve been wondering when you were going to go and do something like write a book.” I guess deep down I knew that writing would come back to me eventually, or more precisely, the desire to write. I also knew that it wasn’t something I wanted to force by any means. I knew that one day I’d finally want to share my story with others, and this is my chance.

What I have already come across though is the fact that I wish I could be my own editor. For instance, I have these few sentences at the end of one of my paragraphs that I absolutely LOVE. I think that’s a struggle for writers: Having the desire to write, while also being able to keep a certain distance from their writing. It’s always been hard for me. I’ve come to realize though that everything seems to work out in its own time, so I’ll just keep on writing. On the flip side of that though is the fact that I wish I had someone to edit my writing right after I wrote like (like page by page). I mean, I’ve written a little less than 3 pages at this point, and I feel like it’s pretty crappy. Yes, I know that this is my first draft and that first drafts are always shitty. There will be many, many, many rewrites. It’d just be nice to know what works and what doesn’t right off the bat you know?

I’d love to get some feedback/suggestions from all of you who are experienced with the writing process. After all, you can never have too many pointers when it comes to writing!

The Feeling Of Being Needed.

16 Jan

Over the past few days, I’ve realized how amazing it is to be needed. I’ve always loved the feeling, but over the past few days, I’ve realized how special it is. To know that someone needs you, but also knowing that simply “being there” is enough. I’ve been needed by a friend recently, and I love it. I love knowing that me just being present is a huge help.

We all face difficulties throughout our lives, and through it all, it helps to have a friend by your side. Someone to help you through it and keep you busy so you don’t have time to dwell on the hard parts. Personally, I know that without my friends, certain days would just be unbearable. They make me laugh when I feel like crying, all the while helping me see all the good things that are in my life. I’ve been described as an “all-or-nothing” type, and I guess I am. The type who can dwell on certain things for a while and has to be reminded to focus on the good. I think over the past few months, I’ve attempted to redirect that focus. This past Friday when I was at my weekly restorative yoga class, I began to realize where my mind drifted when I was striving to “be present.” It wandered to homework and classes and grocery lists and my schedule of things for the week. I realized that my mind didn’t seem to wander to the happy things. Out of habit, it focused on the “to-do” lists and the mundane things that needed to be done. Though this was aggravating, it was something that helped me.

In connection with the feeling of being needed, it’s been nice to take the focus away from myself. Though I don’t feel like I constantly focus on myself, I know that my continued worry and anxiety may make it seem like that. Therefore, over the past few days, it’s been nice to be able to focus all of my attention on the happiness and well-being of someone else. Ultimately, I feel like this is an important concept to learn to master since I’m planning to go into a career of counseling. Just learning the concept of focusing my energy and attention on the person in front of me rather than focusing on myself. However, in terms of being a counselor, it’s important to feel completely confident in one’s past, flaws, and all sorts of different things that make us unique. Because first and foremost, we’ve got to want to help ourselves if we want to feel confident in helping others, right?