Cheryl Chen: BA English/Creative Writing, University of California, Irvine. Mentored by Ron Carlson, Honors. JAR prose/poetry Editor. Published in CHP’s NAR magazine and won “Best Fiction Piece” in 2009. Children’s Literature Enthusiast. Speaks and leads Extension 777. Currently works in Newport Beach and loves spending time with her family and fiancé. Blog http://writercherylchen.blogspot.com/ Twitter http://twitter.com/Cheryl__Chen Contact email@example.com
Ron Carlson told his students a piece of advice that I will never forget. When his library building would clear out for summer, he’d sneak inside to use the typewriters. He wrote so many stories on those machines in the dawn of his summer vacation. He told us that you need to set yourself a precedent for your days off. You have time off to write, not time off to play.
Whatever party or gathering that you are tempted to go to, write off your friends because you have an obligation to write.
The impact of his words frightened me. To me, hanging out isn’t a waste; it’s a valuable investment of time spent with loved ones. Carlson’s “idea” of a writer is rampant. We’re told to aim for this stereotype, to neglect the demands of society and our lives. Having completed my first novel draft in a year (while planning a wedding), I still resist such conformity. What will I write about if I don’t experience life and cultivate relationships?
Ph. by Black Swan Imagery
But there is some truth to Carlson’s advice: being a writer requires hard work. If I’ve learned while struggling through a first draft, it is that. Every profession requires hard work; being a writer is no different. As a writer delving into the YA sphere, I acknowledge that some people will look down on me for not isolating myself with writing. However, I believe there are other characteristics that truly define a writer: a respect for the power of storytelling, the willingness to learn, and the courage to venture out into the unknown armed with nothing but your own imagination.