The Start of My Writer Timeline

Now Brewing: Green Mountain Coffee’s Island Coconut: a coffee I like to drink when I’m in need of a reminder of warmer, summer days. It has a unique “coconut flavor that transports your senses to the tropics”

New laptop, new fonts? No problem. Second Shots has taken on a new look , as my personal MacBook Pro heads in for repair. I was worried I wouldn’t get to write for the two weeks I’ll be without my precious computer, but thanks to a few downloads from dafont.com and Pages download from the App Store, Second Shots will progress, with a great fresh new look.

If you haven’t checked out dafont.com yet, I’d highly suggest it. There are some fonts that make even boring assignments seem fun while you’re typing them. Try the Calvin and Hobbes font or the Harry Potter font, and you’ll see what I mean.

I promised I’d start with Jennifer Weiner‘s “For Writers  tips today, so here goes.

In her first tip, entitled “The Unhappy Childhood”, she writes that the big joke in the editor’s community is that they should head to local elementary schools and find the “misfits” per say. She asks the question, “Why do unhappy kids grow up to be writers?” 

I thought her answer was great: 

“Being an outsider- a geek, a dweeb, a weirdo, a smart mouthy girl or boy who just doesn’t fit in-means that you’re naturally equipped for observing life carefully.”

When I was first reading this tip, I was thinking in my head, “Well, that’s not true for me. I wasn’t unhappy. I had a great childhood.” But as I continued reading on, I stumbled upon memories in my mind that made Weiner’s take on a good writer’s background click with me. 

Before I got into college, and before the glorified high school days, and even before the somewhat embarrassing middle school years, I was an outsider. I went to a public school where you’d think I would have been able to find someone to bond with; after all, there were plenty of choices. Even though I started elementary school at the same time as all the other girls in my class, somehow there were already cliques, which no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t penetrate–couldn’t fit myself into. 

So, that left me on the outside. I was happy though, I didn’t really mind. As I reflect back now, I realize I was only happy because I didn’t know there was anything else–that there was anything different. My parents, however, who are still very happily married, despite the thoughts of Weiner, decided to transfer me in fourth grade to a private school. 

It was eye-opening! I was in a smaller class, but I almost instantly made a close group of friends who made the next chapter(s) of my life simply bounds better than elementary school. The fact that I’m still friends with these people now, almost twelve years later, has made it possible for me to all but forget those outsider years before the big switch. 

But they’re still there, and thinking about them now is a little painful. In those years though, I did observe life as it went by. I learned to keep to myself, I read a lot. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on, and my love for writing grew. When I was a 3rd-grader I even won first place in a writing contest for a short story I wrote about being different. Maybe that was the eye-opener for my parents, that I needed a change. The outsider years, no matter how difficult, shaped me into who I am– and as Weiner writes, taught me how to observe; which is a crucial skill for a writer to have.

Weiner’s second tip, “The Miserable Love Life” was very easy for me to relate to. As I’m sure many of my readers, and surely most of my college-aged colleagues could relate to, I haven’t had the best track record with the whole “love” part of life. I’ve dated a few guys and although they were all awesome during the actual dating part of the charade, the aftermath or the big breakups, have each played into my writing in someway. It relates back to my previous post, “Reality in Writing.” Each of the guys I’ve dated have in some way, possibly from conversation or a situation or even in their looks, shaped characters or plots in a short story or sometimes even within the characters of “Second Shots.” Weiner writes that,

“unrequited crushes, romantic despair, and a few memorable break-ups will give you something to write about.”

I find that using my own heartache, or sometimes elation, has brought my stories and characters to life, so in a way I have my failed relationships and their other halves to thank. Weiner also states that this miserable love life gives writers “an understanding of grief.” Understanding where your characters are coming from and what their personal story is is another important part of writing that good writers don’t hesitate in tuning in to. 

As for my miserable love life, it’s not all bad. Luckily thanks to the characters in Second Shots, I’m able to play out my ultimate reality and live vicariously through them until Mr. Right comes along for me. 

The third and final tip from Weiner that I am going to cover today is the part of the writer’s timeline that currently I find myself in–the college years. The tip is entitled “Major in Liberal Arts (but not necessarily creative writing). She writes that:

“a liberal arts degree, whether in history or anthropology or political science, or English, teaches how to read, how to write, and how to reason.”

And with those skills, you’ll be able to succeed in just about anything, especially in writing. Weiner also writes of an idea that I know well, that ideas for stories come to writers no matter what they’re doing. I guess my need to write during random aspects of my day is totally normal because once again, “It’s okay, I’m an author.” Weiner says,

“A writer writes. If you’re going to be a writer, nothing, not even a difficult major can stop you.” 

Luckily, I get to write all I want with my major, even though it’s not creative writing. There’s nothing stopping me from my writing, except for my own stubbornness and easy distractions that come with the college grind.

Speaking of, I better get back at it!

Thanks for reading!

See you soon,

Kathryn E. Weast

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