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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...
February 2004 Column

Write With Different Eyes

by Tama Westman

Youíve heard it often enough as a writer. An editor says, ďCan you give me another point of view?Ē That doesnít simply mean to change first person to third and present tense to past. No, it requires moreóa deeper delving into your art.

There came a day in my life as a parent where the world stopped on its axis, ceased to revolve. As my best friend and I walked through a restaurant parking lot, having just completed a fabulous Italian dinner, her cell phone rang. While she was on the phone, learning the details of what would be a life-changing event for us all, my eyes were drawn to the ambulance screaming across the elevated highway above us. Hours later, I realized that it was the same ambulance that held her son, and mine.

A Parentís Worst Fear
It is the worst horror for a parent, when their child suffers. My child was thrown through a windshield. My friendís son had a fractured spine, due to my boy crashing through the front seat on his way to the windshield, breaking his best friendís back en route. The next days, weeks, months and years, became a nightmare for all concerned as we pieced our boys back together. Three years later, and we remain in the midst of the process.

A writer, I wrote, scripting my tears and agony into the manuscript. A poet, I drafted a poem, dark with my pain. But I couldnít place the pieces. I didnít understand how anyone could turn them down and choose not to publish. The story was poignant, real, touching. It wasÖnothing any other parent hadnít gone through in one way or another.

A Different View
However, when I stepped back and looked at the event through anotherís point of view, the story changed and acquired a depth I had only scratched at before. When I wrote the same account as seen and experienced by my teenaged daughter, publishers literally knocked down the door.

Normal teens, the two fought. They loved each other and hated each other in equal measure. But, when you almost lose your brother, everything changes
óeven if only for a while. The most touching scene of my entire parenthood was when we brought Devin home from the hospital. His older sister, who had previously argued with him on a daily basis, carefully curled up next to him in his bed. They just lay there together, held each other and cried. Her teen friends came over, his too, and all just sat around in the room and watched, as sister and brother held onto a life that nearly disappeared.

Months, months later, when I picked up my pen to write Shanaís story, I sold it once, twice, three times, four times, to an anthology, to a national magazine, to the local newspaper, even internationally. It still evolves into more and more.

Same Story, Different Slant

I couldnít sell my story of a motherís heartache and a sonís trauma. But a sisterís broken heart, her guilt, his forgiveness, and their renewed kinship
óthat was a story that continues to change lives. It rises against sibling rivalry, pettiness and flippancy. It causes the reader to stop and evaluate the relationships in his or her life. It effects change.

Are you having difficulty selling or placing a story you KNOW is fantastic? Have you considered the option of changing it completely? Step back and adopt another viewpoint. Look at your story through different eyes. Allow the artistry that is yours as a writer to come alive under your fingertips as you strive to make a difference. Why try to simply sell a good story, when you might craft one that will effect change in peopleís lives? Youíll be amazed how different a story becomes when seen through different eyes.

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary and arts magazine, Haute Dish. As a freelancer, her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.

She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students and helps to edit the column of her 18-year old, British-bred cat on coolpetsites.com, Purrfect Gypsy Ė The Catís Eye View. She is married with two college-enrolled children, and keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Her published clips can be viewed via her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com and she can be reached at tamajoy@earthlink.net.









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