Saturday afternoon, I drove downtown to the Dallas Farmers Market to check out the vendors, shops and restaurants. The Shed (open air pavilion) is open Friday – Sunday, and The Market (enclosed) is open 7 days a week with multiple restaurants, specialty shops, food vendors and seating areas. In the car, I glanced over at my daughter, Sophia, who was sitting in the passenger seat with a book in her lap. Before we left, she asked to read her book on the way downtown. She was reading the 4th book of the Percy Jackson series and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Unlike me, she can read in the car without getting motion sick.
Although Sophia is only 10 1/2 years old, she is just a few inches shorter than my 5′ 3″ frame and constantly borrows clothes from my closet without asking. Besides wearing the same size in shirts and shorts, my daughter and I also share an intense love of books. While I’ve loved reading for more than 30 years, Sophia’s increasing interest in books is more recent. I think her new school is the reason for the change. Since we switched the kids to a new school in September, they have both started reading for enjoyment more often.
In fact this weekend, Sophia brought her book to Tallen’s Taekwondo testing, in the car on the way to the Farmers Market and into the grocery store while I shopped. We also stopped at the library Sunday afternoon, to pick up a book I had on hold and she discovered the Young Adult section of books. Until this weekend, she selected books from the children’s section but her taste in books is maturing. She asked to read The Hunger Games trilogy and I am still undecided if I am going to let her, or wait another year or two until she can read it.
Along with an increased love of reading, both kids have recently expressed an interest in writing. After reading several Goosebumps, Captain Underpants and Max Crumbly books, Tallen wrote and illustrated his own ten page book. Did I mention he is only 7 years old and in first grade!? Yes, one day he just sat down at the computer and started typing. In about two weeks, he wrote ten chapters of his book titled “The Adventures of Tan Man and Glopy Boy.” Then he asked me if I knew anyone who would be interested in publishing his book!
For the last few years, Sophia has declared she wants to be an artist. Now she added writer to the list of careers she is considering, alongside gallery owner, painter, dancer and mother. With her blonde hair, glasses, and love of books – Sophia is basically me 30 years ago.
My Writing Career
For almost 20 years, I’ve built a career in petroleum engineering, which I truly enjoy. However, if I had to choose another career path 20 years ago, I would have become a writer. Writer is still a title I allow myself to wear, although I don’t have the time or margin in life to pursue writing full-time. About six years ago, I starting blogging regularly. I also began attending blogging, writing and faith-based conferences where I found community with other bloggers. Last fall, I attend a creative writing workshop hosted by Art House Dallas and rekindled my love of storytelling. Since then I have attended a Writer’s Feedback session and plan to join one of the Art House Dallas writing groups to further my writing goals.
Read to Become a Writer
Since I did not pursue writing in college, everything I’ve learned came from my love of reading. If you ask me what you should do to become a writer, the first thing I recommend is to read as much as possible. Read every genre, read good books and bad ones, read the classics, read current best sellers, read anything you can get your hands on. By reading books, you can learn so much about what makes a good story and what type of writer you want become.
I’ve learned my writing style lends wells to essays and memoir, along the lines of Shauna Niequist and Jen Hatmaker (not that I compare my WRITING to either of these successful authors). By reading Shauna’s and Jen’s books, I realized their style felt like I was chatting with a friend over coffee, which is MY style of writing. Although food and fitness blogging was my focus for several years, I am starting to step way from this style and look forward to sharing more of my stories.
Books for Writers
Authors who write about writing often have the best advice for aspiring writers. They understand the fear, comparison, rejection and self-doubt that hitchhikes along on the journey to becoming a writer. If you are still interested in pursing this difficult path, here are the Nine Best Books for Writers that I recommend to all aspiring writers.
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
The Artists Way – Julia Cameron
Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft – Stephen King
The Writing Life – Annie Dillard
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction – William Zinsser
Pen on Fire – Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
Big Magic– Elizabeth Gilbert
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
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Where are you on your writing journey? Are you just starting out or are you a published writer? What do you struggle with when it comes to writing (time, self-doubt, lack of inspiration, etc.)? Have you read any of these books for writers?