Tuesday, May 20, 2014

WRITING WILD WITH TINA WELLING

guest post by Tina Welling

There’s an old spiritual saying, “First things first.” For me, at times, that has meant writing. In the beginning, this didn’t go over so well with people who were used to me putting them first - say, my husband and two sons. It didn’t even go over so well with me, since I didn’t feel justified taking time and energy away from my other involvements when I hadn’t published a single thing.

I think this is a place that trips up a lot of us who long to write. While learning our craft, we don’t feel that we are good enough to demand the time and space to work at it. Many of us carry full time jobs, we may have partners and children, a house to tend, and we struggle with how to fit it all in.
To then add a big piece like writing seems to incur defeat before even starting. But I’m a big believer in following your longing. When we long to do a thing and we turn our back to it, we have chosen to numb out to life in a big way. It’s imperative to live fully by doing what we love.

At first, I kept my writing a secret. I told nobody. My kids thought I was writing a lot of letters. It was a hard time. I felt like an impostor at work, grocery shopping, anywhere I wasn’t writing, because suddenly it was all I wanted to do and all I thought about and yet nobody knew it. Still all along I was learning; I was writing my training novel. And during that time I carried a fear that I would be hit by a truck and die before I could get good at the craft and then people would read my mounds of manuscripts and pity me, because I was such a bad writer. The idea nearly paralyzed me, but I pushed on.

However, I was tested along the way. I received a lot of “change back” messages from my family, which I tell about in my newly released book, WRITING WILD, Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature. I also received many, many rejections from agents, editors, magazine publishers and I lost every competition I entered. Recently my friend and novelist Tim Sandlin, director of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference, said, “But you just kept going.” And he’s right. I kept going - past the point of sane behavior it seemed at times.

I had to ask myself along the way just why I was writing and it turned out that it didn’t have as much to do with being published as I had thought. But it did have to do with the exchange between myself and others of thought and beautiful language. These two issues were what I loved about reading and what drew me to want to be a writer. So it became my job to find ways to enjoy an exchange with other readers and writers.

I found four other women who also wanted to write and learn to write well, so we met together every other week at a coffee shop and critiqued each other’s work. Eventually, I found open mic opportunities, and discovered that some non-profits held events that offered a chance for public readings, and I found a couple regional print avenues. I participated in whatever came my way.

Now numerous magazine articles, four anthologies, and three novels later I’m celebrating the publication of my first non-fiction book that tells what I’ve learned all these years. WRITING WILD – if it’s anything - is a testament to perseverance. So, Writers, keep going. Write and write. You are following your longing. You are making your life worth living. Do you realize how many people in the world envy us just because we have a passion in life, something we love to do? And this something wakes us up to a livelier experience than most people enjoy. We are engaged in creative energy and it is the substance, ethereal as it is, that makes the world go around.

Lynn chimes in...

Turns out Tina and I share a love of Vedauwoo.
This magical place in southeastern Wyoming played a role
 in Tina's awakening to wild writing and living
.

I gave myself the assignment to read Tina Welling's, WRITING WILD so I could say a few words about it in conjunction with Tina's blog post. Good call, Lynn. I finished the book yesterday, and let’s just say that I'm going to turn right around and re-read it. It’s that impactful. I don't want to miss a thing.

Tina took me on a wake-walk (her term) through the three-part process that makes up the core of this book. She introduced the process lightly at first—just a few twigs—then extended a wise hand to lead me further into this dense forest of a concept. On a serendipitous trip to Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Colorado, I practiced some of Tina’s techniques. I am still reverberating with all that I sensed, discovered and absorbed.

Using stories from her own life, quotes/ideas from other creative folks (William Stafford, anyone?), and distilled wisdom from nature, Tina gives us plenty to work with to find a connection with the natural world—or enhance the one we have—to the benefit of our lives and writing.


5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your inspiration and your passion. After I finish writing this comment, I'm going to work on my memoir and getting a magazine article query sent out. I have been punishing myself with the horrible thoughts of how I don't have what it takes to be published, much less successful. Your post straightened me out! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad you found inspiration from this, Laura! I have, too. Planning on getting Tina's book at my first opportunity.

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  2. At Lynn's suggestion and from Tina's remarks, I went down to Tattered Cover here in Denver yesterday morning and bought the one copy of Writing Wild they had on the shelves. Read about three chapters into it last night and love it. Will continue reading today. What is it about Vedauwoo that makes so many of of have magical experiences there? Went there once in 1976 and it changed the direction of my life. My son went to UW and used to go there to climb the rocks. He's a geologist, so no mystical experiences. ;-)))

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    1. Glad you're enjoying the book. Vedauwoo has something for everbody, I guess. I wish I were hiking Turtle Rock trail right now.

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  3. Glad you're enjoying the book, Art. Vedauwoo is indeed something special. Mind-bendingly beautiful. When I have visitors from out of state, I always take them there.

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