Monday, October 31, 2016

The Many Hats of a Writing Life. What's one more?

So many writers wear other hats, and I'm not just talking about non-writing careers or day jobs. I mean the different hats they don within the literary world that usually don't come with fat paychecks or profits: editing journals, publishing literary websites, running boutique publishing houses, organizing book festivals, hosting a writing conference.

I'm one of those folks who some days worry my hat rack is about to tip over. Often, I have to remember what my husband said when I headed out to Family-School Association meetings: Just. Say. No. Because I was already on two committees, or had just wrapped up five years of booking assemblies.

So I have said no to otherwise interesting sounding, tempting literary "side jobs" that didn't feel like a good fit, or conflicted with something I was already doing, or when I did not have an extra ten minutes.

But then something comes along, appearing in that sweet, rare spot (that maybe lasts two days) when I (usually incorrectly!) believe I actually do have a bit of "spare" time, which coincides with a piqued interest in the job (hat) in question. That's when I forget everything my husband taught me, my arm shoots up, and I say Yes.

My newest hat is editing craft essays about nonfiction writing for the cool literary site Cleaver Magazine. After I was published in Cleaver in June, I struck up a friendly online exchange with editor Karen Rile. She messaged me one night to see if I'd take on the job, knowing I was interested.

It was my good luck to inherit an inbox with a few good submissions already waiting, and it was even better luck to work first with writer Andrea Jarrell on her piece, doing exactly what I love—exchanging editing ideas with a writer whose work is already excellent.

 Andrea's wonderful piece will resonate with many memoir writers. In "Becoming an Outlaw (How my short fiction became a memoir),"—which is, on its own, a lovely bit of memoir—Andrea brings the writer into her writing process, her mind, and her heart. Along the way, we learn how she managed some of the bigger obstacles of memoir writing: finding the boundaries between narrator and major secondary characters, navigating the possibility of hurting a family member with our story, figuring out why she's writing at all, and how that knowledge helped impose an organizing principle on the manuscript.

I hope you'll take the time to read Andrea's work at Cleaver. And, if you're interested in writing a craft essay, we're open to submissions.

Images: Hats - Flickr/CreativeCommons-MCroft; Cleaver article illustration - Candice Seplow/Unsplash

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