Why I love writing: an introvert's writing story from childhood to retiree. Plus writing tips for newbies and a chance to vote on my back cover blurb!
I think I was always meant to be a writer. I’m not speaking specifically about my writing talent…I’ll leave that to you. I just find writing to be so peaceful, freeing, and fulfilling to me. But it didn’t just start in the last year since I retired from my corporate job.
My earliest recollection was the summer of 1977. “…at the age of eleven, my friend Roger and I wrote, typed, and ‘rented out’ the first (and only) edition of the Belle Meade News, our little neighborhood’s goings-on newsletter. Since we didn’t have access to a copier, we only typed one original, thus necessitating us to footnote the Word Search on the Puzzle Page, ‘Please do not write on this page!’ We managed to rent out the Belle Meade News three times (our parents and one very kind neighbor, Mrs. Mills), bringing in 75 cents.” Thus, though my upcoming memoir is certainly my biggest writing project to date, I’ve technically already been published 😊.
Four years later, I became engrossed with three years of writing and editing on my high school newspaper, The Sword & Shield. “It was like my little cave of co-workers within a loud, preppy high school. I liked the writing and excitement of printing a paper every week. I also enjoyed attracting the “oohs” and “aahs” from impressed classmates during my in-class interview with the school quarterback.
“How do you do that,” one remarked.
“What?” I asked.
“Taking notes without looking at your notebook.”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” I blushed.
Their reaction seemed genuine though misdirected given there was no mention of my journalistic skill itself. Nevertheless, I was a sucker for even the smallest degree of recognition.
The summer before my junior year I attended Journalism Camp at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, about an hour from home. This was my one and only sleep away camp as a kid. I’d never been interested in the more traditional summer camps before. Days away from the comforts of home with strangers, doing team building and sports? But I was excited about this camp. It presented a chance to learn more about journalism and writing; to see how this passion might grow. I soaked up some of the tricks of the trade, met other high school journalists from across the South, and published an interview with a Bama assistant football coach in the camp paper. It was exciting, productive, and encouraging.”
When I returned home from camp, my parents and I discussed my college major plans. “I led off by sharing my interest in continuing to write through a journalism degree at Alabama. However, scarred by their own financial struggles, Mom and Dad saw a business degree as a better path to financial security, certainly more so than journalism. Despite the gratification I got from writing with the high school paper and the notoriety it provided a shy, innocuous boy like me, I never fought for my passion in journalism. Perhaps I never even recognized it as a passion at that point. Heck, I was 17. I had no great convictions. And I surely didn’t recognize the significance of the decision, not just for my college years but for my career and my peace of mind along the way. Frankly, I just wanted to drink beer with friends and dream of finally moving to college, away from the house that had become a bit sad and lonely…
My blinding respect for my parents’ authority left me to register as a Business major and countdown my final months at home.”
As the years passed by in my Supply Chain jobs, writing lay in the background. Occasionally I would lean on my old friend, journaling my thoughts during my most challenging times. But I found it hard to shift my mindset from my left-brained work tasks to a more right-brained creative approach. Furthermore, I was typically quite preoccupied with 50 hour plus work weeks and family time. I do applaud those that manage to write extensively while they are working and/or raising a family. That’s true dedication to one’s passion.
Fast forward to 2013 and I was out of work for two months recovering from shoulder surgery. As my right-brain was engaged, I began to jot down storied and thoughts. That became the origin of my memoir. Eventually, I became inspired through reading other memoirs and by my writing coach to delve deeper, to bare my soul to enjoy the ultimate benefits of my craft. I think that is why it’s taken so long to get my book out…because I keep discovering new memories, connections, and insights. The whole process has been both therapeutic and enlightening.
Excerpts from In Search of Courage
I continue to climb the writer’s learning curve and thus, do not claim to be anything of an expert, but I will share some tips for new writers that have been helpful lessons for me:
Just write. When I was gearing up to advance my book, I read so many books on writing and went to writing classes and conferences. Finally, I realized I needed to stop learning about writing and actually write! Carve out some time, even just 15 minutes, with computer or pen and paper, with a plan to write. Sometimes I stare at my screen unable to think of a topic, but I’m creating the space for those days when I have plenty to share. And when I’m in the zone, I try to allocate more time but not too much. I want to leave something in the tank and be excited to return to the table the next day.
Write…don’t edit. Writing and editing are critical parts of formal writing, but very different. Writing new material is very creative while editing and revising thoughts and grammar is a more structured, detailed task. I can’t switch my brain back and forth. So, first and foremost, I sit down to write, to “vomit on the page” as some say. Certainly, it’s not always good stuff and is fraught with typos etc, but my mind opens up and thoughts roll out. This is the most revealing and therapeutic part for me.
Edit later. Perhaps hours, days, or weeks later. This takes several versions but this process is very exciting because I see thoughts crystallize and become crisper…like a light that comes into focus.
Be flexible. I’ve also been able to be very loose, in the time, space, and rituals of writing. It just makes it easier to write, but I acknowledge some people need more structure and that’s okay.
Be kind to yourself. Perhaps I’m just lucky or just too new at this, but I think I’ve avoided the writer’s block many complain about because I try not to place too much pressure on myself. I do try to write every day. But if I can’t or what I write is crap, that’s okay. I tried and I will return the next day. Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you don’t currently write, start by journaling a bit. You may find it very therapeutic. If that opens up doors and you want more, than consider blogging or writing short stories. Many find writing fiction a great escape into a world you create yourself. Write On, Dude!
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Count Me In!
As I’ve noted, I’m in the final editing phases of my memoir, In Search of Courage, due out on book shelves and online stores in the first quarter of 2020. I’m currently working to land on a back cover recap or blurb, and I’d love your input. You don’t need to know anything about the book. Below are two draft blurbs. If you were scanning these at a bookstore or on Amazon, which peaks your interest? Which of them makes you curious to learn more and read on?
A Steve Friedman’s memoir, In Search of Courage traces his turbulent life as an introvert striving to compete with the social pressure while climbing the ladder in corporate America. With the world as his backdrop during years of travels, Friedman bares his soul to uncover forgotten experiences and hard fought truths that had evaded him for years in his search for courage. Eventually, Friedman’s memoir reveals a path toward happiness but can he finally muster the courage to make the right choices?
B Steve Friedman presents a story about his battles to cope with his introversion from an early age. To combat the pressures of adolescence and corporate America, he adopts addictive behaviors that threaten his health and his family life. Steve faces many forks in the road but struggles to make the tough decisions to find peace and happiness. What would you do when faced with such adversity? You will find yourself rooting for Steve while also testing your own mettle. In Search of Courage is a fast read, but the lessons will inspire for years to come.
You can vote by sending an email to BeyondIntroversion@gmail.com and simply noting your favorite (A or B) in the subject line. Certainly, any further comments on the blurb or our website/blog are always welcome. The winning blurb will be announced in August.
Additionally, I’m seeking Beta readers to read my advanced manuscript and provide feedback for incorporation in my final edits. If you are interested, please add “Beta YES” to the above email subject line or text.
More information will follow and you will be placed in a raffle for free prizes in the fall!
Your participation in our website and with my memoir makes all the difference. Thanks in advance!
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