Sure, Woodland’s a small town, but that doesn’t mean you won’t bump into a writer. When my husband and I were out to dinner one night with friends, a man and woman approached the table and started visiting with us. The woman turned out to be Pam Young, author (along with her sister Peggy Jones) of many books including Sidetracked Home Executives™: From Pigpen to Paradise; Get Your Act Together; Sidetracked Sisters Happiness File; Sidetracked Sisters Catch Up on the Kitchen; The Phony Gourmet; and I’m Okay…but you have a Lot of Work to Do.” The sisters have experienced every writer’s dream by appearing on Oprah as well as CBS Morning News, Today, and other popular shows. They have probably written more books than these, but the long list was enough to make me want to rip up my writer business cards and hide in a dark room; I felt I had wasted too many years and left too many words unwritten.
That’s one thing about a lot of us writers…it doesn’t take much for us to feel unworthy of the title, just because someone else has been in the business longer or published more work. In 2006, I took online writing courses from Eva Shaw at www.ed2go.com (which, by the way, you can enroll in at our Woodland branch of Lower Columbia College). I was so impressed with Shaw’s teaching that I attended the 2006 Cape Cod Writers Conference in Osterville, Massachusetts, where she presented workshops. Thrilled to meet Shaw, but feeling insecure, I said to her, “I feel like a pretend writer.”
Eva Shaw, who has published more than seventy books and 1000 magazine articles, replied, “We all feel like pretend writers.”
That was a turning point for me. That’s when I had my business cards printed; I started wearing an “author in progress” t-shirt; I presented a Write the Stories of Your Life workshop to Woodland’s Red Hat Tamales; I helped inspire young writers in my granddaughter’s first-grade class; I started submitting work.
Once I started feeling like a writer, things started happening. I began writing this weekly column; my stories about Woodland began to be posted on www.lewisriver.com; my story Indian Summer appeared in the just-released book Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause; I attended the Whidbey Island Writers Conference and the Willamette Writers Conference; I got to know other writers, and I took more classes; I started thinking about reprinting the book I published thirty years ago.
In August, I attended the Willamette Writers Conference with Klazina Dobb, a Woodland acupuncturist. At the Lelooska Foundation fundraiser last spring, I purchased a gift certificate for a massage at Klazina’s clinic. When I met Klazina and I told her I would soon be going to a writer’s conference, she said, “I ‘m glad you’re here. I want to write a book, but I’m not sure how to get started.”
Klazina and I attended the conference together and enjoyed sharing mealtimes with other writers, agents, and publishers. At the closing banquet, we shared a table with Kristina McMorris of Portland, who was presented the first place Kay Snow Writing Contest award in the Adult Fiction category for her novel Between the Lines. Through meeting Kristina McMorris and other published authors, we learned more about the business of writing, and we made new contacts.
At that conference, both Klazina and I took a writing workshop taught by Julie Fast, best-selling author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. We enrolled in her Proposal Writing course through Portland Community College, where we learned that nonfiction writers must first write a proposal to find out if an agent is interested before writing the book. Klazina is working on her proposal for a book about healing for health-care workers; I am working on my proposal for a book about a tuberculosis sanatorium where my family once lived and worked, and today’s re-emerging tuberculosis.
I’ve read about Woodland author Alan Rose’s book The Legacy of Emily Hargrove. Woodland resident Suzanne Taylor Moore Faveluke recently sent an email containing verses she wrote a number of years ago for greeting card companies, and in 1974, she published a book called Coffee. While interviewing Jill Yates at the Lower Columbia College Woodland campus, I found out Jill has written Tales of a Teacup and Coffee Lovers Bible. I’m sure there are many other writers in Woodland whom I haven’t yet met.
I picked up a flyer at the college on the Write Your Life Story class held each Wednesday at the Presbyterian Church, which is led by Carmen Web. The class is currently full, but another session starts January 9.
There are many writers in Woodland: some are published, some would like to be published, and some just want to write. We all have something in common…the drive to put words on paper. Everyone has a story to tell, and no one who writes is a pretend writer.