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

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...
 June 2004 Column

A Writer's Worries Relieved
by Tama Westman

Just when you wonder if you are really accomplishing anything at all, along comes a confirmation that blows you away.

As a parent, your main concern is always wrapped around your children’s lives. Are they eating enough? Are they healthy? Did they get to school on time? How well do they understand their classes? Do they get along with the teachers? Who are their new friends?

As a writer, you put yourself on the line every time you submit a story. Will the editor like it? Will this story sell? What if I had done one more rewrite, could the piece have been better?

It was during one of these rather doubtful periods this month that I found myself in the local high school gym, setting up a table display and preparing to talk to over 900 students for Career Day.

The school had asked many professionals from assorted career fields to come and talk about their careers and advise interested students in what courses they should study, and what path to follow if they might choose to do the same. Students chose at least three professionals to talk in-depth with and would come by in groups of three to five throughout the day to listen and ask questions for about 10 minutes before moving on to another presenter.

The day progressed well. The teens asked good questions. I felt encouraged that so many seemed interested in becoming writers, and in fact, were even writing a lot of fiction already. Several students wrote down Web site addresses for me, and asked if I would check out their material online and offer a critique. I was so impressed.

But what really blew me away, was this one young man who came up during the last hour of the day. He flipped through my portfolio while waiting for a turn to talk with me. Suddenly, I heard him say, “Wow! You wrote When Grace Meets Grit?”

Garnering my full attention, I turned to hear him say, “I found this article online months ago, through a series of links. It’s powerful, really made me think. I can’t believe I’m standing here with the person who wrote it.” Blown away. Absolutely, totally blown away. Not him. Me.

I didn’t think anyone had read that piece. It was a difficult sale too. It’s hard to convince a religious market to publish a devotional comprised of a real world situation, the discussion of a father and his teenaged son dealing with the stress of rush hour traffic and other drivers flipping them off and what their faith-filled response should be.

Sometimes you don’t know why you write what you do, if anyone will ever read it, or if the world will hear your voice. Then, the single response of a boy in small-town USA, who tells you his life was changed when he read your carefully crafted words—it makes every effort, every worry, all worthwhile.

When Grace Meets Grit, pub. Sept. 2003, Light & Life Magazine can be viewed at www.tamawestman.com, click on Features Stories.

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 magazine, Haute Dish. 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 teaches beginning and intermediate writers at conferences throughout the country. Married with two grown children, she keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Further samples of her writing can be viewed on her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com feel free to e-mail comments to tama@tamawestman.com









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