Being in the right place makes a huge difference. In 2016 when I committed to becoming a writer, I lived in Minneapolis, MN, one of the meccas for writers in the Midwest. I could have been in Iowa City, another mecca, but just lucky I guess.
Minneapolis is home to The Loft (www.loft.org). If you go to their website, you will find: Founded in 1974 (incorporated in 1975), the Loft is a haven for readers and writers; one of the largest centers of its kind in the country. Our mission is to advance the artistic development of writers, foster a thriving literary community, and inspire a passion for literature.
I credit The Loft for jump-starting my journey. I quickly began taking classes, ranging from Intro to the Memoir to Finish that Book! Equally important was the education I got from The Loft on the business of writing. It clearly isn’t enough to be a good writer to make a living, a person has to understand that it is a money making business, and my 40 years of working only needed to transfer from agribusiness to IT consulting to writing.
And while I was taking classes, I began to write in earnest. It was my new job: working from my home office, trying to keep a 9-5 schedule just like the olden days. That didn’t last long—I found the effort to concentrate on writing for eight hours straight was not a good thing for me. I needed breaks, a chance to refresh.
My first project was finishing a memoir I had started forty years earlier. That project has become LET ME IN: A Japanese American Woman Crashes the Corporate Club 1976-1996. But I get ahead of myself. My first tasks were to erase 35 years of business writing habits and go back to creative, descriptive writing.
When I started business school at the U of MN, one of the first classes was a business writing class. I prided myself on being a good writer, so when I walked into class and saw my memo projected on the screen in front of the entire class, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I got this!”
Imagine my surprise and dismay when I found out the prof was using my memo as the “Don’t Be”, not the “Do Be” example…
So for thirty plus years I stripped all extraneous description from my writing and presented the bare facts. I put the punch line first—the “call to action” in the first paragraph rather than using it to close out my arguments. Business writing is excruciatingly brief.
My first classes in creative writing sent me back to my pre-business years, when I was writing to describe my life, my day, my experiences in letters and journals. And I wrote and wrote, revised and revised. I took praise, but wanted criticism. Minnesotans are so nice.
I loved being back in classes–learning, discovering, processing. I was having the time of my life!
My family was my support group. Scot had what he wanted—work without the burden of a business to run; My kids were independent, out of the house beginning to make their own way. And I had the freedom to pursue a dream.