Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beacons of Light - 2013

At this time of year, as winter deepens and darkness spreads its seeds of doubt, I am heartened by the Beacons of Light--Sarah Lamstein, Dianne Ochiltree, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Pat McDermott--who illuminated the writing process for wordswimmers over this past year.

Thanks to their generosity and insights into their work, I've come to better understand how my own writing process works and how I might find ways to keep stepping into the water or plunging off the edge of the pool to continue swimming, even when the water seems too murky or too cold. I trust they've helped you, too.

Each year I find that wordswimmer helps me connect with other writers in unexpected ways. It was one of the goals of this blog when I first set out from shore in 2005 (before Facebook and other sites were part of my writing life) to provide a sense of community for writers and to encourage writers to make connections with each other.

I wanted to offer a place online where writers might share thoughts about the writing process or about a manuscript that is puzzling them or a book on the craft of writing that might have helped them through a tough spot. By sharing these aspects of our working lives, I believe we can help each other.

Writing can be a lonely profession, and it's easy to forget that we are not alone. The writers who shared their thoughts on writing over the past year with us are proof that writers can benefit from offering support to each other while we're in the water.

Here are four companions who you'll want to take with you as you set off on new adventures in the year ahead. You may have met them earlier in the year, but I'm sharing their words of wisdom again in the hope that they'll help you remember why you started swimming in the first place:

"Most always I set out but tire or think some island or mirage is shore. I set out again with new eyes and come closer. Again and again I set out, each time with newer eyes." -- Sarah Lamstein

"When I swam laps at the YMCA as my daily exercise, my favorite part was the satisfaction and pleasure felt as I climbed out of the pool at the end…and so it is with writing.  “Having written” my daily dose of words gives me the sense that I have done my job, the thing I was put on earth to do. I believe no one actually chooses to be a writer.  It’s something that chooses you early in life, and you don’t feel 100% unless you write a bit each day.  It's a mission and a passion. It lets you splash in the kiddie pool and have fun, too! " -- Dianne Ochiltree

"You won’t see me dive into the water – unless you need me to rescue you. I tend to tiptoe around the shallow end, getting wet gradually, before I move into the deep end. The same is true for my writing. I know writers who plunge headfirst – and I admire their spirit and style - but you know what? We both make it to the finish line." --Susan Campbell Bartoletti

"Most days I tiptoe in, though I make my share of graceful dives. At times, I’m reluctant to even get wet, or I’ll sit and wait for the water to pour over me and let me steep like a tea bag. My latest release, a YA set in Ireland, features a troop of water fairies who live in a palace beneath a lake. For the better part of a year, I swam with them nearly every day, sometimes jumping right in, sometimes wading, always wishing I had their webbed toes and fingers." -- Pat McDermott

I don't know about you, but I find it comforting to look up from the page and find these writer/friends offering encouragement as I dip into a new project or wade through a swamp of revisions, cheering as I kick madly toward the finish line of my latest draft.

Thanks to these Beacons of Light for sharing insights into the writing process and for guiding us in the next stage of our journeys.

And thanks, wordswimmers, for stopping by this blog to test the water this past year. Your support and ongoing encouragement is a gift that inspires me to keep swimming despite the shoals and hidden reefs lurking beneath the surface.

May 2014 be a year of clear swimming for all.


Lynne Buchanan said...

Thank you for sharing your inspirations and insights. We all need beacons of light in our lives. Yesterday, I listened to the Larry Smith's Ted talk "Why you will fail to have a great career" with my son and his girlfriend who are graduating this spring. He stressed the importance of pursuing your passion and then noted all the roadblocks and excuses people put in the way. It is the same with writing. Most people who become writers do so because it is their passion–it is too difficult a road to travel otherwise. Yet, we still find ways to stop ourselves. I know I do. Wordswimmer is such a valuable resource and inspires us to get in and swim instead of staying on the beach afraid to take the plunge. Just want to thank you for keeping it going, especially as you have faced your own challenges. I am deeply grateful.

Bruce Black said...

Plunging into the water this year has had its challenges, that's for sure. But when I needed inspiration, I turned to these beacons of light, and they helped me find my way back into the water. Your photographs, blogs, and journey west and back again were inspiring, as well, and often helped me keep going. So many people serve as inspiration in our lives! Thanks, Lynne, for taking the time to share your thoughts. Good luck with all your many projects.