Who Do You Write About
I grew up during a time when children were to be seen and not heard, young people were not supposed to question their elders under any circumstances and women were supposed to know their place and stay in it. So, when I began writing I thought more about what ideas to write about than people. People were sources for my articles; people were a means of communicating the ideas in my articles. But, they were not the subject of my articles. It wasn’t until I began writing for newspapers that I learned how to write with people as the subject of my writing and learned how to interview people for those articles.
Learning how to interview people was a challenge indeed for someone who was taught not to question others. Thankfully I never fully accepted that teaching. At one point I toyed with the idea of joining the military so I could afford college. It was a plus that my father, who didn’t see the value of college, had great respect for the military and liked that idea. I think he was disappointed when I changed my mind but he accepted my decision. I knew myself well enough though to know that in the military when they say “jump” the only acceptable response is “how high?” but my response to that question would be “why?”. I have always questioned those in authority over me whether I spoke the questions or not. So, I just had to learn how to let that side of me blossom when I started writing.
Writing about people as a career was not as simple as researching that person’s history and life in the library and then producing a term paper, although my early articles sounded like some of my school term papers. As my skill improved I remember telling someone that when I wrote my first draft I would read it over and think, “That sounds like a good book report or term paper.” Once I re-read it, edited it and polished it I could declare, “Now that is God’s work in my writing.”
Not that I think my writing is inspired like the Bible, I’m not so arrogant to compare myself to God’s word. But, it was only after doing the labor of research, putting all that information together to create the factual article and then going back over it and adding the creative touches and removing some of the more boring details that few would remember, that the creative touch of God would show in my writing.
The earlier steps were necessary but there is a huge difference between compiling facts and figures and putting words together in a way that breathes life into the people, places and ideas of your articles. Business writing, as in customer service writing tends to be very bland because you are usually trying to soothe an upset customer, win back a lost customer, or explain a situation to an existing customer. This is not the creative writing of marketing. This is the day-to-day communication of a business to a customer. With nearly 40 years of customer service experience, from dealing with customers face to face to talking to customers from all over the world over the telephone, my communication style leans toward instruction and explanation rather than the creative genius of fiction.
I am currently working to stretch my wings and develop the creative side of my writing talent. One project I am working on is a memoir about growing up with a mentally ill mother and how her illness affected everyone in the family in one way or another. My hope is to help others who have lived with and cared for a mother in this way. My other project, which will probably take longer due to the learning curve, is a novel. Since that genre is so new to me I will keep the details to myself for now until it is closer to fruition.
Who do you write about or who do you plan to write about?