Monday, May 12, 2014

Am I a Writer? Really?

It has been the most amazing weekend, and I have so much to tell you about...but today is going to be an extremely busy day for my husband and me, and I also need to collect my thoughts before I can adequately describe the way my second-oldest son asked the girl of his dreams to marry him on Friday.  So while I'm getting it together to compose that post, here is one that's been languishing as a draft since I wrote it up last week:

I was reading a post by one of my favorite Catholic bloggers not too long ago, and I found myself saying out loud, "That's it!  That's how I feel!"  Sarah Rhinehard is the Vice President of the Catholic Writers Guild, has authored several books, and regularly publishes articles and book reviews--she is busy, busy, busy writing, but currently not working on a book.  And here's what she had to say on the subject of being a writer:

...that whole "I’m a writer" thing? It feels…crazy, phony, unbelievable. I feel very much like a hack. And no, it’s not that I doubt my ability to write. It’s not that I’m insecure, because I know I’m okay at what I do.

It’s more that defining myself as a writer feels somehow untrue, like it’s a past-tense or a future-tense thing, not a current-tense thing."

Even when I was working on Finding Grace, I had trouble thinking of myself as a "writer."  I was just plugging away at my project in secret, wondering if anyone but my husband and myself would ever read it.  For those four-and-a-half years, when I was writing and re-writing and editing each page to death, if you'd asked me what I was the last thing I would have said was, "I'm a writer."  And now, with no new book in the works (Nicholas Sparks I am NOT!), I feel less like one than I ever did.  I have a few ideas that I've been kicking around, but so far I haven't had the motivation to sit down and get to work on a second novel.

Shortly after Finding Grace was published in the summer of 2012, I contacted author Therese Heckenkamp to see if she would list my title on her Catholic fiction website; she not only did that, but also read the book and posted a nice review (FG's first review by a published author!).  When I emailed her a thank you, she replied that it was her pleasure to help out a fellow author.  When I told her I felt funny about using my name and the word "author" in the same sentence, she said I needed to get used to it.  Almost two years later, I'm still not.

I blog almost daily, and that's writing--so...I guess being a blogger makes one a writer.  And I've been doing a good number of book reviews lately for Amazon and Goodreads.  I am a contributing reviewer over at as well (although I haven't done a whole lot of work for them lately).  But If you're writing reviews--even when you're doing it pro bono--then I suppose you would have to consider yourself a writer.  (Right?)

But still, the tag "writer" (as a job description) still seems much too surreal to me, because I make no money doing it.  But as my husband reminded me recently when this subject came up, I have never been paid for the work I've done throughout my adult life (since I was always a "stay-at-home mother/housewife"); but that doesn't mean my work has been without value.

Well said, oh hero of mine.

So if I use whatever writing talent (or compulsion!) I have, doing my best to employ the written word in such a way that it will give glory to God, then it doesn't matter if I make any money or not.  It doesn't mean that my writing--whether it's Finding Grace, or this blog, or the reviews I pen for Catholic works of fiction--is without value.  This is something I must continually remind myself.

I have always had a laminated copy of our wedding article (from the small hometown newspaper where my husband and I grew up, and then met in high school) on our fridge.  After 33-plus years, it's yellowed with age, but it never fails to make me smile when I look at it.
I clearly remember when I was filling out the form for the press release--writing out the names of our parents and the members of the wedding party, stating where we would be making our first home, etc.  At the bottom, there was a short section for the bride to fill out, telling the name of the high school from which she'd graduated and the degree she'd earned at college, and what she was doing now; and directly following was a paragraph about the groom.  It was easy to fill in what my husband was doing: he was an ensign in the US Navy, attending flight school to become a Navy jet pilot.  For a brief moment, I was tempted to put "aspiring writer" for myself.  But I knew that would sound a little crazy, because at the time it was no more than a pipe dream.  So I left that line blank, and my section just ended by saying I'd graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA with a bachelor of arts degree in English.

Now that I am a writer (pinch me?  Am I really?), I almost wish I'd had the guts, way back when I was a 22-year-old newlywed, to say that I was aspiring to be one.  It took until 2007--when I was a 49-year-old mom of grown kids--to get inspired to start Finding Grace, and a few years more to start this blog.  I'm so happy God sent me the grace to do it, and that I found it.  (See what I did there?)  With Him, all things truly are possible!


  1. This is beautiful, Laura! I love your writing, and I'm greatly inspired by it more often than not. :) God bless!

  2. Replies
    1. Well, as usual, your comment has made me :).

  3. "So if I use whatever writing talent I have, doing my best to employ the written word in such a way that it will give glory to God, then it doesn't matter if I make any money or not."

    Well said. God bless.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Victor, and for your encouraging words. I do feel blessed!

  4. The perspective on that hubby of yours. Just what I needed to read! We're writers!!!

    1. That guy has always been so supportive of me, and has always shown that he appreciates the [unpaid] work I do for the family. Many times over the years when he's been on trips, the other pilots will ask, "Does your wife work?" And his stock answer is always, "She works a lot harder than I do!"

      He's been my main man since we were both 15, so he's always known about my secret dream to write a novel one day. And even though I never did a bit of writing after I turned in my last college paper (unless filling out my sons' baby books counts?), he always told me he knew I'd do it eventually. I'm not even sure I ever would have become a writer had it not been for his undying support and his belief in me. He's so funny--he gets bummed if he goes to my blog and I haven't posted something new that day!

    2. How supportive! Hello, Mr. Pearl!

  5. See, Laura, only a true writer could write such a beautiful and inspiring post! ;)