What It’s Like to be a Writer

There are many kind of writers. Novelists, mystery writers, autobiography writers, just to name a few. I’m a short story writer who has written a mystery and is writing another one. In case you didn’t know, it’s highly unusual for a short story writer to write a mystery.

I once had a friend who said I was lucky to be a writer. Well let me tell you if you enjoy solitude then you will be happy as a writer. It’s just you and your imagination sitting in front of the computer, trying to write. Words don’t always flow. When that happens, I pick up a book and read. Reading for me is inspiration. And of course I read a book that’s similar to what I’m writing.

When I’m writing I’m in the zone. The zone is like none other. You forget to drink, you forget to eat, you forget everything but the document in front of you.

I once wrote a screenplay. Difficult when you are not accustomed to writing a screenplay. It requires a certain format. I spent hours trying to format the screenplay, not hours writing it. Seems to me that I was spending more time formatting than writing. So I gave it up.

Now that I’m writing another mystery, I’m reading mysteries. I’ve read Lee Child and now I’m reading Sue Grafton. Sue Grafton is kind of funny, making her books enjoyable.

As I said, no matter what you write, you need to read that kind of book. I’ve taught creative writing and the people in my class never read the kinds of book that they liked to read. It was frustrating, but it turned out a few of the people in my classes actually had writing talent.

I don’t intend to teach anymore. It infers with my writing. And I plan to someday be a full-time writer.
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Sue Powers is an accomplished writer. She has written a mystery, She’s Not There, that will published soon and is writing another mystery.

My Creative Writing Class

My ‘Writing the Short Story’ class began two weeks ago. We had four people for the first class. Second class we had three (very nice people). For the third class, the fourth person has said she will be there. But here’s the thing – they’re all beginners.

Beginners need all kinds of help and instructions. How to write a scene, what felt experience is, how tone affects your story, how to read a story from the writers’ point of view, how to develop your characters, point of view, how to publish once you learn the craft of, etc.

I admit it took me years of writing to learn the craft of writing. And here I have only six weeks to teach my beginners just the basics.

For the first class, they learned how to reach their “wild” mind, i.e. the unconscious mind that writes the first draft. Then we went over the arc of the short story. After that we brainstormed ideas for a story they would write. In addition, I asked for them to let me know what they expected to write. One woman took a course in the novel, but she was determined to learn how to write the short story.

The second class we read their stories out loud. It’s important for some one other than the writer to read the story so the writer can hear how it flows. Which is exactly what we did. According the class, that story was done. I didn’t exactly agree with the class. But I feel my job is to encourage a potential writer so I didn’t comment. But further on in this class, I definitely will.

The following class hasn’t happened yet. But I have planned to discuss what felt experience is. That, plus we’ll read the stories I suggested by giving them an idea I’ve used before that was successful.

For many years I taught this course at Glenbrook High School. Then one student wanted a formula for success. There is NO formula for success, and if there is, please share!

People are very busy these days, and the short story has regained interest. After all, one can read a short story in one sitting.

Do you have an interest in writing? Specifically, do you have an interest in writing the short story? Take a class. Join a writing group. Lastly, start writing!
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Sue Powers has 21 fictions published. She’s been awarded a Fellowship and grant in Prose from the Illinois Art Council, and two of her stories were nominated for a Pushcart Prize.