jlsathre

jlsathre
Location
Illinois,
Birthday
July 30
Bio
I'm a lawyer in my past life, who got the kids through college and decided to try something different and a little more fun. A used book store sounded like a good idea, so that's where I am for now. I just hadn't counted on a recession or E-readers and am a little afraid there's going to be a third act. In the meantime, I have plenty to read and a little time to write. Not a bad way to spend a day.

MY RECENT POSTS

Jlsathre's Links

Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 24, 2012 1:37PM

To Be a Writer

Rate: 27 Flag

A few years ago, my daughter was doing some part-time online teaching at Gotham Writers' Workshop and found out that she got a free class for every class she taught. She asked if she could give it to her mom and they agreed.

I had quit practicing law at the time and had opened a used bookstore that found me surrounded by writers and with quite a bit of extra time. The class sounded like it might be fun, although I balked at the possibility of being taught by my daughter. When she assured me this wouldn't be the case, I climbed on board. 

Our first assignment was to write a short introductory paragraph. As best I recall, my introduction went something like this:

My daughter gave me this class for a Chrsitmas present because she thinks I like to write. She's only half right. The truth is that what I really like is to be done with writing. To have something that I've written that I can go back to later and read. To have an idea pop into my head and for the words to flow. It doesn't happen often.

The truth was that it hadn't happened in years. When my kids were little,  my sister and I wrote short essays about our kids and sent them to each other through the U.S. mail. I go back to those pages occassionally and they always take me to a place I've forgotten, but like to visit--a sort of time capsule at my fingertips. Unfortunately, they also make it appear that my kids aged out of being cute or interesting or the center of my world at about the ages 10 and 7 since that's when all writing stopped.

For the next 15  years, whatever writing I did was to an audience of lawyers and judges. And, to the extent that I enjoyed any success at that, it was mainly because I was good at "getting to the point" and giving the judges just a few pages to read rather than the 20 that most attorneys handed over.

I credit my succinctness to an old philosophy professor whose one rule was that we couldn't hand anything in that was longer than one typed page. It forced me to organize ideas and thoughts, to get to the point, and to leave out extraneous verbiage.

Imagine my surprise when my instructor started telling me she'd like to hear more of my story and not just my conclusion. When she started talking about things like the important "descriptive detail" and "voice" and "dialogue."  When she started asking me to show rather than to tell.

I plodded along, skipping some assignments, turning others in late, reluctantly crossing out the adverbs that helped raise my word count, not reaching the 3,000 words that were suggested for our last piece, and always being relieved to be "done." Although also happy to have a finished written product at my fingertips.

Sometime later, my daughter joined the foreign service, I quit being the beneficiary of free classes, and I stopped writing. Again.

Until I ran across Open Salon.

I don't remember how I got here, but my guess is that my daughter "liked" a post, I saw it on my Facebook page and wandered over.

It wasn't long before I pulled out one of those late assignments, pasted it up and pressed "publish." Like most maiden posts, it was mainly ignored, lost among the better writers and the recognized names. It didn't help that I didn't have an avatar and that "religion" was in the title. I was low on the learning curve.

Still, I got two rates and one comment. (Thank you, Helvetica). It was more than enough to keep me going.

I'm not a deep thinker like some here. Nor am I a poet, an artist, or someone who can turn a phrase into a thing of beauty. I don't have any grand passions and, luckily, have lived a mainly happy life on a fairly even keel. I'll never have as much to say or be as proific as Con Chapman no matter how quick I am to say "done."

But I am somewhat of a plodder and met my own personal goal of writing at least one post a week. As I look back at nearly a years worth of writing, I'm as amazed by the trail I've created as I am by what I read here every day. 

My kids have now appropriately aged on paper well beyond their early childhoods. I've revisited and recalled things about my own childhood that I had forgotten. I've left bread crumbs showing the way of my political leanings, my everyday life, and at least a peek  into my thoughts and who I am. My time capsule is getting full.

I still like to be "done" with writing and am often too quick to press "publish" without going back and rereading and rewriting.

I know that's part of the process, but I'm always a little too happy to have written anything at all. Being "done" and having those finished products is a large part of letting me think of  myself as a writer. Only gradually have I found  myself enjoying the writing part too.

This post started out as a one year anniversary post--a sort of thank you to Open Salon and all the readers and writers who've inspired me with their own writings and who've kept me going with some recognition for my own. 

Unfortunately, when I looked back at my old posts I realized that my anniversary is actually November 23rd instead of the October 23rd date that I remembered.

This post is a month early.

But darn it, it's "done."

 

 

Author tags:

thank you open salon

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your writing and your musings about life as a bookshop owner and former attorney. But I've especially loved your writings about your life as a mother, wife, and sister. Happy anniversary! My one-year anniversary is coming up, too! How can I top this?? R.
Beautifully written blogiversary post, J. As much as we may complain about how this site has degraded, it still offers us a place to see and be seen by loads of viewers, and is an inspiration to those of us who put off putting things down and letting them go. And we meet some damn smart and nice people as we do.
So here's to more years for OS and for us, and may the gremlins and spammers begone, and the editor be around.
If not mistaken, your post on opening a bookstore is one of the most widely read ever on OS. Your subjects have a broad appeal and your succinctness really work in essays. I wish I could say that about my own work. The problem is how long the site is going to last and the bets are coming in against it.
Early or late, still an excellent piece of writing... R&R ;-)
wow . weird shit. i thought you were one of those geniuses
writing since age 4. to say you are not
a deep thinker is like
socrates sayin he is the wisest man
cuz he knows nothing.
or like emily dickinson hiding all those weird poems in a box.
~
i too had an old philosophy prof. his name was john jacobs.
i was 18. guy had studied his stuff. he was 75.
he was german. he said,
"you! james. lucky. you are, you can concentrate. sit and think. ya?"
"mm hm."
guy looked like a seriously decrepit and dissolute john paul II.
~
he taught me how to think. and when he found out
that by some damn miracle i could ALREADY think, he fostered it.
He was a bit of a mystic.
~Imagine my surprise when my instructor started telling me she'd like to hear more of my story and not just my conclusion.

(cuz yer thoughtwaves are somehow special & gotta be spilled, gal)


When she started talking about things like the important "descriptive detail" and "voice" and "dialogue." When she started asking me to show rather than to tell.

I plodded along, skipping some assignments

~

i dropped out of college. too much else to read. the stuff
the instructors knew not of.
but johnny gave me the brainfire to understand it.
and the courage.
Happy Blogiversary!!!

Are too a deep thinker. :p.

R
[r] you are an incredible writer. a very down to earth and relate-able sensibility. Little self-pity or ego leaks through. Honesty and humility and good will. Happy anniversary. Re brevity, good for you. I type for attorneys and one sentence can go on for a page! Pascal, Cicero, Twain, Goethe -- not sure who gets credit for the line about if I had more time I would have written a shorter letter! best, libby
JL, whom I often call Jill, and then realize my mistake too late, because I hit "post" without adequate review, your writing is one of the reasons I check in here.

Seriously! It's not easy getting in anymore, but I'm willing to wait because I like walking into your bookstore. I know I will always find something interesting to read.

I'll keep swinging 'round because I know you'll be here with some gorgeous little package for me.

JL, I remain your fan,

Emily
Your writing always strikes me as from the heart, JL, as is this fine advance notice of your impending entre into the Oldtimers Club. Welcome! ;-)
Keep scribblin'. You are a terrific addition here, always a thoughtful, funny, entertaining read. Your goal of once per week has definitely surpassed mine. xoxo
You write so well and are an very earthy person. You relate your feeling and insights in a delightful way.

Rated
Congratulations. Keep writing. Your words and actions are inspirational becasue they seem to come from a real place. Writing simply because you enjoy it.
Nicely "done" and happy anniversary! The best thing about OS for me is that I learn so much from the experiences of others. There is a generosity and warmth from many writers who share their lives, triumphs and losses and everyday experiences. Thank you for sharing & here's looking at another year of writing!
Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting and for continuing to write pieces that entertain and inform and give me a place to go to in between book sales. I hope we're all here, reading and writing, for years to come. I'm not necessarily betting on it, but I am hopeful.
Well, I am so glad you are here and writing! : )
(just noticing your comment at the end...)
I hope we are all here years on down the road as well : )
I'm very pleased you're writing/reading here w us; thank your daughter for all of us.

r.
I should've had your philosophy professor - I could use lessons at brevity! I love your writing, and your ability to get succinctly to the point. This is a gift my daughter has, too, and I hope she returns to writing. Above all, I am glad you're here, because I always get something from your ideas. Don't discount yourself as "not a deep thinker." I think instead, you are simply better than most at summing up and beautifully expressing truth clearly rather than wrapping it up in a bunch of verbal paper that obscures, rather than beautifies. Keep writing!
I like your writing and I'm so glad you enjoy doing it now. OS is fun, that is why it is addicting and we keep coming back no matter what.
Very glad you are here! Happy anniversary. I always enjoy your writing.
Thanks for sharing a truly genuine post of your rich life. I could feel your frustrations, the sense of managing family, career and the 1000 lb. touchy beast looming there, its face dead center in our monitor, its breath at our neck. And I find the risk taking of operating a book store as a labor of cascading love -- never quite know whose life's being changed as they leave your store, that one magical read under their arm that may, just may, change their life. I am impressed, this is some leap of belief into the theater that we attend in our most cherished reads. BTW, I will always read the touched page, stick- in- the-mud that I am . Your writing is clear, concise and engaging. Thanks for sharing. R>>>>>>>>
Thanks for sharing a truly genuine post of your rich life. I could feel your frustrations, the sense of managing family, career and the 1000 lb. touchy beast looming there, its face dead center in our monitor, its breath at our neck. And I find the risk taking of operating a book store as a labor of cascading love -- never quite know whose life's being changed as they leave your store, that one magical read under their arm that may, just may, change their life. I am impressed, this is some leap of belief into the theater that we attend in our most cherished reads. BTW, I will always read the touched page, stick- in- the-mud that I am . Your writing is clear, concise and engaging. Thanks for sharing. R>>>>>>>>
lucky to read this great piece now.
May your ink never dry!
i could really sense the true and quintessential beauty of a woman's soul. while reading the entire stuff, i could sense personal appeal in each and every line and had a visualized image of the entire thing. it is well said that it is good to write for yourself and have no audience, rather than writing for the audience but have no self. keep on scribbling something and keep on striking our heart as always.....
Good story. I am a former homeless person. I don't have a lot of academic education, but I love to read and write. I'm also very thankful for open salon and hope it continues to offer us an way to share our writing.

I hope you all forgive me for my outside any mainstream ideas. My belligerent personality. I'm not trying to be rude or anything. I just grew up in a situation with a lot of screaming and yelling and beating and stuff like that, so I admit that I have a combative personality. I'm aware of it and getting better.

I am very interested in post about writing, because I can't afford to go to school, I am learning by trial and error and the example of other writers.

Thanks
Sometimes I think to be a writer ... is to simply ... be ...
Nicely done indeed. I really enjoyed your thoughtful reflection, as well as numerous other of your pieces that I do easily recall.
Happy early blogoversary! It's so interesting to read your thoughts on writing, and how you came to blog here. Whatever your feelings about the writing process, your results are stellar. Thank you for all of your beautiful posts, and many happy returns!
Too often posts with titles like this are the reasons I don't like to read posts with titles like this. But your post is wonderful! You have a great voice. Plod away, writer! We're all grateful when you're done :-)
What a beautiful post. Happy Blogiversary! Rated.
Check this out:

www.litlover.weebly.com
"I'm not a deep thinker like some here. Nor am I a poet, an artist, or someone who can turn a phrase into a thing of beauty."

Not true, counselor. And this essay of yours proves it. All the best...
"I'm not a deep thinker like some here. Nor am I a poet, an artist, or someone who can turn a phrase into a thing of beauty."

Not true, counselor. And this essay of yours proves it. All the best...