Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writers Write

Today I am thinking about my older sister Julie. Today is her birthday, and she is someone I really look up to. We weren't that close during most of our adult life. She and her husband lived in Europe and I was busy with my large family. But after she came back to the States and went through a divorce, and my kids were older, we had time to bond again.

That's when she made a statement that changed my life.

One day on the phone I was moaning about my career or lack of one. Should I go for a master's degree? Should I teach?

"What do you want to do, Karen?" she asked me.  Without a moment's hesitation, I said, "To be a writer. I only want to write. It's what I've always wanted."  And she said, "Then why go back to school? Writers write. They don't keep going back for degrees. They write. If you want to be a writer, you have to write."

At that time, I'd finished Farm Girl and felt there was hope for me completing a novel. After my conversation with Julie, I resolved that I would finish the novel I'd been working on for ten years and I'd get other projects lined up as well. Whenever I wavered and worried about money, thinking I should be supplementing the family income with a guaranteed paycheck instead of  spending time writing with no guarantees, I thought of Julie's words.  

Writers write.

There's really no other way, is there?

Like all my family Julie's a really good sport about seeing herself show up in my stories. She is who I based Marcie's older sister Linda on. One reader said this about Linda-- "I especially loved Linda, Marcie and Cindy's sister-- I do wish we got to see more of her. She was fun!"

Happy birthday to my wonderful sister, Julie! Who I'm sure won't mind if one day Linda gets to be a main character in her own book.

Julie has always loved laying out by the pool to work on her tan. (She's the one sitting on the edge.)


35 comments:

  1. Great post, Karen. For some reason it really resonated with me. Lately, I've dealt with many of the same doubts you mentioned above. You certainly put things in perspective. Thanks for this.

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  2. Andrea, Good. Thank Julie, she is the wise one of the Jones girls.

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  3. Hi Karen, I really would like to take that advice to heart myself. Right now I just do not have the time to commit to it. Too many other things I love doing are bogarding most of my time. Somehow I need to find a way...

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  4. Great advice from your lovely sister. I hope she had a happy birthday.

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  5. Happy birthday to your sister!
    I know a lot of authors do have degrees in writing and I'd wondered about that when I began my journey, because I had neither writing degree nor accomplishments. Glad I just wrote instead!

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  6. Oh, what a great picture! You all look so cute!

    I hope your sister has a wonderful birthday. I really appreciate her words of wisdom! I needed to read this post today, thanks for the inspiration.

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  7. Happy birthday to your most wonderful big sister!!

    Take care
    x

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  8. Very cute picture. And I went through a similar time in my life when I wasn't sure if I should go back and get a second degree in teaching. It was something I certainly could have done and been happy with, but writing is what i always wanted to do, so...I'm working on novel number three. :)

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  9. Happy birthday, sister Julie - and good for her, for encouraging you to follow your dream. It's a true blessing to have supportive family and friends when taking on something like writing, that can be amazingly joyous, and bitterly disappointing at other times.

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  10. Sisters know us like no other and it is usually good to listen to them. I am blessed with two and they are my dearest friends.

    Happy Birthday to Julie.

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  11. Thank you to your sister, and you. Writer's write. Yes.

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  12. Happy Birthday to your sister! 'Writer's write' Never more sage advice. I'm going to remember that always.

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  13. Happy birthday to Julie! Hey my first pool was just like yours. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  14. Happy Birthday, Julie, my first pool looked just like yours too. That picture of little blond kids splashing in the backyard could have been from my childhood in Sweden. It really reminded me so much of the photos I have. How great that Julie gave you such great advice.

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  15. Happy Birthday to your sister. Sounds like she gives good advice especially about following your dream to be a writer.

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  16. Aw, lovely tribute to your sister.
    tis a brave thing to be , a writer.

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  17. What a lovely post. Sometimes all we need is that one person who will ask us the right question. Sisters are a precious gift - Happy Birthday to yours.

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  18. That's so true. Writers write. It takes a lot of courage, but it's so worth it in the end.

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  19. Needed this wise advice today...thanks to you for posting and thanks to your sister for giving it to you to pass on to us! ;)

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  20. What a sweet sister story - she said just the 'write' thing at the 'write' time. ;)

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  21. Sisters are the best. I love that mine tell it like it is.

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  22. Karen, what a lovely post! I would be lost without my sisters. I'm so glad you listened to yours!! :)

    p.s. Happy Birthday Julie! (she must be my birthday twin because it's my birthday today too LOL)

    p.p.s. YES I hope Linda gets her own book - fingers crossed!! :D

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  23. Very wise words and a lovely tribute. :O)

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  24. Hi Sharon .. how fantastic to be able to rekindle your sisterly love .. that's great and to be able to put her into a story .. or perhaps her own ultimately ..

    Writers Write - love it .. absolutely cheers Hilary

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  25. ...writer's write, for there is no better way to describe it. Well done, Karen.

    And wishing your sister the very best of Birthday wishes :)

    El

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  26. Wise words indeed. You should listen to that sister!

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  27. What a lovely birthday tribute to your sister. :)

    I love her advice.

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  28. That is great advice. I don't know what I'd do without my sister.

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  29. Awesome post Karen. So true in what she said. My brother told me the same :)

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  30. I agree with your sister. She made a very wise comment. It's nice that you are reconnecting with her.

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  31. I've wondered what it would have been like to have had a sister. Glad you're now close to yours. Just write - how right!

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  32. Yup, writers write.
    And write lots. And read some. And write. And think lots. And did I mention write?
    Wise sister. Hope he had a wonderful birthday.

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  33. P.S.: Saying that wheat is for men and chocolate is for women goes against my grain.
    Sexist exclusiveness!
    Bear wants both, with a bit of honey.

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  34. Happy Birthday to Julie. She sounds like a wise woman. :)

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  35. aww! What a nice post for your sister. And yep, you and she are right. Writers write. :o) <3

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