It is said that a good writer must be “well read.” In order for an author to find his or her place in the industry, they must know what they like. I am an insatiable reader, as you all know. I read for work and pleasure and can often be found reading multiple books at once. I carry around a big cloth tote bag, filled with books I may be in the mood to read at any given moment and of course with many manuscripts on my Sony e-reader, always right in tow. I have the “well read” part covered.
I have a small, yet loyal (thank you!) readership here on the RTC Publicity blog. I value that tremendously but have never considered myself as a writer, per se. The blog has evolved over the years. It started with a few spontaneous postings back in mid-2009. Sometime in 2010 I became more dedicated to the blog, and began posting more regularly. In looking back, I’ve been able to see my writing mature over time—and I know it will continue to be refined, honed and matured as I continue to write – really finding my voice both in style and content. And in case you think I’m being a bit too self-aware, other close RTC supporters regularly request a sneak peak of my next piece, be it for this blog or a guest spot I have recently attained. And my loyal following, week after week, gives me feedback, usually positive. A hey “Thanks for writing this. I’ll send it along.” Best compliment you can get—that a reader found it worthy of sharing with someone else. That said, perhaps the biggest compliment I’ve ever received was when an author used my first blog post on the crisis of traditional publishing to spur discussion in a university class he was teaching. So slowly I have realized people are reading what I am writing. Maybe it’s my style, maybe it’s my content or maybe it’s simply everyone’s loyalty to me, but people are reading what I write and that is rewarding!
I am good at writing short pieces, and summarizing longer reads. I write short, punchy pieces – for my blog, for other outlets and for my work: I read novels and sum them up in one page to entice the media. It’s an acquired, unique, but a necessary skill. I never thought of engaging in “writing” much past that, even after the blog started to take off and other organizations approached me to write for them. Then I joined the International Women’s Writers Guild (IWWG) and attended their writers’ conference at Yale as a one-day commuter on June 25th after the urging of a close friend. I thought I would meet more authors, meet some of the women of IWWG, maybe do some networking for future work and call it a day. What I found was something very different. Immediately when I walked in to registration on Yale’s beautiful, world-renowned campus, I felt at home with these women – felt a part of something bigger than me. I was introduced to a few people as I researched which workshops I’d be attending and then a miraculous thing happened, simply miraculous.
I introduced myself for the first time ever as a writer: “I’m Rebecca Crowley, yes, I’m a writer.” I don’t know even where it came from, it seemed unbidden – unprompted – it just was true, and therefore came out! I felt something click on in that moment. I know this may sound “new agey” but I truly believe that life is a journey, and wherever my path may lead, this is a moment I will not so soon forget. It felt insanely freeing. A different part of my identity revealed.
Some of you already know this – I already am working on a book – a memoir on the e-book era. I’ve been sort of stuck although what I have on paper so far is pretty good. All my closest advisors have said it just has to be a memoir. It’s too soon for anyone to be an expert in the realm of e-books. So many things are being tested. HOWEVER, my experience in the e-book era is singular and unique and I have an interesting story to share of my ten years in the book industry. After attending the writers’ conference and taking a memoir writing workshop called “Shimmering Images” by Lisa Dale Norton, I realized there is a specific process to this format. Now I know and I can continue on with my work.
What I found at the IWWG conference were a lot of eager women writers without big egos genuinely looking to help each other out and genuinely dedicated to improving their own craft of writing. It’s a journey, not a destination and we must always be aware of that. There is always room for improvement. The camaraderie at this conference reminded me why I do what I do. I love authors and creative spirits—and I know it takes work. It is not easy to create a work of fine art from scratch, let alone get it published. I have tremendous respect for anyone who tries and I’ve met so many that come to me ready to take it to the next level. And for that, my friends and readers, I am grateful every day.
And I’m humbled. I’m humbled by the moment I said “I’m Rebecca Crowley, a writer.” Not quite ready to assume the “author” title but enjoying the sojourn. Furthermore, I’d have nothing to write if I have not had a chance to reflect on what I have read. Hence, the title “reader turned writer.”
I would love to hear stories of your own path. There must be a moment for everyone throughout his or her career where that switch is turned on and a new identity is formed. Please share it here, so others (and I) can be further inspired!