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A Writer’s Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011

Lord knows, living the writing life can be maddening at times.  But it occurs to me appropriately enough during this Thanksgiving week, that it also gives us much to be thankful for.  Here are 7 writer-ly things for which I’m appreciative at this reflective time of the year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

  1. The chance to pass the torch.  I visited my twenty-something daughter in Boston last weekend and was once again gladdened by the fact that she, too, is a writer.  With a newly minted MFA in nonfiction writing, she is embracing the freelance life – full of ideas for articles, books, and more.  (Check out her blog at  Writers make for interesting companions in that they are fascinated by all manner of things and brimming with curiosity.  I see the same characteristic in many of my students and it is indeed a thrill to nurture writers of all ages and styles
  2. The opportunity to let our talent shine via this connected world.  Is it just me or do other folks recognize how much the ability to write well and with ease gives one a leg-up in this technology-driven world?  As I spend my days writing nuanced, sometimes difficult email messages in my day-job, I am thankful that I can do so with competence.   Our words have never had the ability to reach the greater world so quickly!
  3. The ability to appreciate fine writing.  A writer recognizes writing that shines.  We know what’s   behind it and, as an old professor used to say, we can hear the heartbeat of the writer as we read it.  Some people believe that peeking behind the words at the craft of writing can ruin the illusion, but I don’t buy it.  I believe it only heightens our appreciation.  This week I read the email of a colleague newly laid off from his corporate writing job and was amazed; he made even such an off-putting event into a celebration of his writing talent, a tribute to what words can communicate.  Kudos to us all!
  4. The golden opportunity to tell stories.  The writer is at heart a simple storyteller – one in a long, long line of storytellers in his lineage, no doubt.  I like to imagine people of old telling stories around a fire, passing on the oral tradition.  We can learn a lot from that oral tradition:  appealing to an audience with pacing, for one thing.  The details that heighten the drama, for another.  In fact, being a writer enhances our abilities to observe in order to record.  Have you ever squirmed in the presence of a particularly talented writer because you believe she can see right through you?  Why should we be surprised?
  5. The power to create new worlds.  Writing is power.  The Egyptians would soak their scrolls in water and drink that water to imbibe the power.  There is social, economic, and personal power in words.  Our immigrant forbears knew that – without the words, where is the success?  Any writer – fiction or nonfiction – has countless opportunities to tell the story is a unique way to create effect. Where else can we create new worlds?
  6. The ability to change the world.  I taught a freshman seminar a few years back called “Writing to Change the World” – and I believed in it too.  So did Mary Pipher who wrote the book of the same name I used in that class.  Words can affect social change.  A simple editorial or blog post has the potential to change the world. In fact, using rhetorical strategies in community forums has that same power.  Pretty heady stuff!
  7. The possibility of greatness!  For the writer, success is just around the corner.  Who knows when one’s writing will hit the big time?  As Emily Dickenson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul.”  Embracing the writing life gives us something greater than ourselves to hope for.

Here’s wishing each one of you a Thanksgiving full of joy and turkey and writer-ly appreciations!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2011 12:47 PM

    Thanks, Gretchen, for these beautiful seven reasons to be thankful! As a writer, I feel very blessed and especially thankful to connect with so many wonderful wordsmiths/authors like you, Sandy and others. Happy Thanksgiving, writers everywhere!

  2. November 29, 2011 9:21 AM

    Great post, Gretchen. Sometimes we get so caught up in the difficulties of being a writer that we forget the joys. Thanks for the reminder.

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