03 June

Who Are You Writing For?


A man and a woman — he in his late 50s, she in her mid 40s — relax in a knotty pine paneled family room. Their easy chairs  — hers, an overstuffed turquoise armchair, his, a burgundy leather rocker-recliner — placed on either side of a big picture window that looks out onto a small lake, the weeping willows and sugar maple trees which line the water's edge, their branches bending in the soft summer breeze, their leaves wafting to and fro, making a gentle clapping and a whispered swish. 

The woman nurses a glass tumbler filled with Canadian Club rye and Coke and two ice cubes, as a Belvedere cigarette smolders slowly in a glass and silver ashtray stand. 

The man, with his well-shined oxblood dress brogues resting on an ottoman, rocks imperceptibly back and forth, as he puffs on a burled walnut pipe, the smoke rings lazily rising and spreading wider into the warm air. Beside him, an old 3-legged milking stool from the farm that holds a dark amber glass ashtray and a stubby amber bottle of Labatt's 50 lager, the beer just out of the fridge, frosty and cold. 

Both sit silent. Both are listening intently...to me, as I read out loud the stories from my books. They show no obvious expressions. They are watching and listening, muted, concentrating, as ghosts often are, to me, their daughter.

There isn't a minute that goes by that my late parents aren't with me as I type. Luckily, for my first three novels, my mother was still alive. My father died a long time ago, never knowing me as the writer I am today. Both are gone now, but in my mind's eye, both sit quietly across from me, breathing in every word, every sentence I create. I write for them.

I tell you this because it's important to a writer's mindset how he or she exists in the writing flow. Whoever you are writing for, whoever that person is, they ARE important to your psyche, to your overall success as a wordsmith, especially on your down days, the ones that seem to have you beat, the ones where gravity feels a 1000%, and every move you make takes a Herculean effort. It will be that person, the one you see in your mind's eye, who will be your quiet guide, who will emotionally lighten your load, and talk to you, encouraging you to fight to write another day.

Writers have a calling, and it's not an easy one. We write for the world. We are the world's liver. We filter out all the poisonous noise and create the essence of life's precious moments as we perceive them. An utterly exhausting enterprise, and one which can weigh so heavy on the heart, sapping all strength. Without your guide, the one you're writing for, story-telling could become insurmountable.

Is this your case? 

Do you have someone you're writing for? 

If you don't have a writing cheerleader on your side, maybe you should. Or maybe you already do, and you don't even realize it.

Today, I want you to sit back and think about whom you feel as that essence around you when you write. No, I'm not being all hippie-dippy here. Everyone in this world needs a guiding hand. Maybe yours is a real mentor, alive on this earth, and with us now. Maybe yours, like mine, has passed. But I bet if you think about it, you've felt someone near you when your writing flow is at its best.

Today was a tough day for me. In Calgary, a heat wave holds the city in its grasp, and it makes even thinking, much less writing, a high obstacle. But as the day's heat subsided, I felt my parents' push. 

"Come on, Barbie, get up and get at it. You have things to do." 

And, of course, I listened to them, and smiled. And this is why this article exists now, solely because of them. I might have allowed the day to beat me, but my parents came through, encouraging me to plunk fingers down on keys to create the tiny vignette above as an example just for you.

HOMEWORK: Figure out whom you're writing for. They will be your writing saviors when nothing and no one else can help.

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