Embracing the Writer Within

Embracing the Writer Within

Since returning from my writing retreat, I’ve had a couple of experiences that have encouraged me to embrace the fact that I really am a writer as much as I am a programmer or musician.

Saturday, October 8, I participated in the Indie Author Day at the Sherburne Public Library. This was a national event and I was so very happy that our library chose to participate.  The goal of Indie Author Day was to bring together libraries, independent authors to start a partnership to get independent works into libraries and to new readers. I was fortunate enough to share the event with Herm Sherwood-Sitts, Justin Palmer (local authors), Brian McDowell, owner of Log Cabin Books (a small independent publisher) and a number of people interested in becoming authors. Writing is a solitary pursuit so it was nice to have a discussion with fellow writers and share experiences. And to top it off, I sold a book to a high school friend who I haven’t seen in a long time.


One of my takeaways from the Indie Author Days was learning not be afraid of asking people to buying your books. This was the push I needed to take part in “Artistic Discovery”, an event where people can sell arts and crafts at my place of employment. I really had no idea how many I would sell, but I was very surprised that I sold fourteen books.

Between my writing retreat and these two events, it’s forced me to really embrace the fact that I’m a writer. As I mentioned in my last post, I tend to not self identify as a writer. Although I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve written a book, I am hesitant to mention it. I’m not sure why exactly. I think it comes from being picked on in high school about being smart. It’s taken me a long time to embrace being a a computer programming, Star Trek loving epitome of a nerd. One thing that has helped is that there’s been an acceptance of geek culture in the last ten years or so.  And social media has allowed people of the various geek tribes to come together. But writing is a little different. Writing is perceived as more intellectual. And without getting too political, I can safely say that there definitely is a large current of anti-intellectualism going on in this country. Admitting you’re a writer is like admitting you’re an intellectual elitist.

Especially now, writing is NOT elitist. Anyone can write, anyone can publish. All you need to start is a pen and a bunch of paper. My former English teachers and English teacher friends will hate me for saying this, but our educational system crushed any love of writing out us with the essays analyzing the symbolism in Farewell To Arms (here’s where I’m going to be a heretic: I pretty much loathe anything I’ve read by Hemingway). The truth is, almost everyone writes on a daily basis: email, social media posts, etc.  If you want a real writing challenge, try to express a complex sentiment in the 140 character limit of Twitter. Talk about  an intellectual exercise!

But we never stop to think of that as writing. And it is. Writing shouldn’t be this big scary thing; it’s something we should all embrace. Whether you publish it or not, the act of creating is important in and of itself. But if you want to publish and see that book on a library shelf, there’s never been a better time to do that.

So I’ve decided to embrace my identity as a writer and I’m asking anyone who reads this to embrace it too. We are all writers; we all have a fundamental need to communicate in a way more permanent than the spoken word.  Even if we never share the words with another soul, we are at the very least, communicating with ourselves.

Now if I only had more time to write, but that’s a different story….

Happy Journeys!




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Being a Writer: Thoughts from my Weekend Writing Retreat

On this past Friday (9/30), I left home and drove a few hours to Saugerties for a writing retreat. Last year, our family stayed there for a week in one of a quiet group of cabins set in the woods. After we left, I thought, that would be a good place for a writing retreat. I tried to pull it together last Fall, but it didn’t work out. But this year, my wife “gave” me the retreat for Father’s Day and I choose this weekend to “redeem” it.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why would he leave a perfectly good house and office to go write in the woods with dodgy wifi?”

A valid question, indeed.

A big part of the answer to that question is..so I can feel like I’m a writer.

“But Mike, you have a written a book. Doesn’t that, by the very definition of the word, make you a writer?”

Well, a bit, I suppose. But when I meet people and they ask what you do, I automatically default to my safe answer “I’m a programmer.” because it’s safe and easy. And true. But this weekend, when I met my neighbors in the next cabin and they asked why I was camping, I said “I’m writing”. And it felt good to self-identify as a writer. I do many things: I program, I play in a number of bands, and I also write. I tend to always acknowledge being a programmer, sometimes acknowledge that I play trumpet in bands, but rarely do I come out and say “I’m a writer”. I’m not sure why. I guess it’s my innate fear of sounding too smart (a trauma from high school that I still try to overcome) or hoity-toity.

This weekend was a chance to play out the fantasy of being a full time writer. After setting up camp and making dinner, I wrote around 1300 words, which is equal to my output on a very good evening of writing. Saturday, I got up a little later than I wanted, made coffee and breakfast and settled down to write. I wrote for a couple of hours and took an hour break which included, wrote again until 5:00 where I took a break to make dinner. I started again a little later and worked until 10:00 PM. In the end, I wrote nearly 3500 words on Saturday. I didn’t write anything this morning because I wasn’t overly ambitious and packing everything up took longer than I thought.

So this weekend represented a real chance to say to myself (and make me believe it): I am a writer!

And since we’re talking about me identifying myself as a writer, I’m going to be attending the Indie Author Day at the Sherburne Public Library on Saturday, October 8 from 11:00 – 3:00 PM. I’ll be talking about how I became an independent author (you can take it as an inspirational or cautionary tale – I’ll let you decide). I’ll also have my book The Reluctant Captain available for sale and I will sign any copy, although the other authors might not want me signing their books. If you any interest in writing and finding out what it takes to publish a novel, please stop by and Saturday, I’d love to meet you!

Until next time, Happy Journeys!


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