I think all artists owe two things to society. One is doing their art, and the other is sharing their knowledge and expertise with the world. (Of course, it is nice if they get to share their art with the world, but some never get that chance, for myriad reasons.) I love writing, and trying to help writers get their art out there, and I adore being able to appreciate the art of writing.
As Langston Hughes said: "My motto, As I live and learn, Is dig and be dug in return."
My path as a writer has been erratic, to say the least. I started writing in school and have never stopped, but my career has largely been about other people's writing. I was surprised to find out, back in 1997, that I really liked working on other people's writing. My parents are both voracious readers, my mom is a poet and writer, and my dad is an editor, so maybe it is in my blood!
I started writing professionally by writing plays and acting in them. Enter Russel, my life partner and co-conspirator in all things, and soon I was editing a literary journal of writing about Baja California, where we were living on our sailboat.
That labor of love led me to Sunbelt Publications, where I spent over a decade happily editing, packaging, and marketing books about Mexico and the SW U.S. That was fun and challenging, but as Editor-in-Chief I was soon spending more time with P&L statements and budgets than books and authors.
On my own as a freelancer since 2011, I got back to editing books which was, and continues to be, a joy to me. I love helping writers figure out how to "tune out the static" to bring in the clear message behind the obscurity of too many words.
I have recently discovered again just how fulfilling it is to help "birth" a book by being involved from the beginning of a book's journey. My most recent "book baby," The Dining Car by Eric Peterson, just won the Gold Medal for Popular Fiction at the national IBPA Ben Franklin awards and I am so darn proud. (It's like your kid getting Student of the Year!)
Along the way, I started teaching. I started by sharing what I was, by then, an expert in—writing great query letters to editors and publishers. Soon I was teaching a popular pitch class at the Southern California Writers Conference, and I quickly joined the SCWC staff. I teach different classes there in conference and each one is better than the last!
Another home I found as an instructor was at San Diego Writers, Ink (SDWI). Over the years, I have taught classes in everything from writing YA to crafting exciting expository. For a San Diegan like myself, SDWI represents a unique resource for our writing community, with classes happening nearly every day somewhere in the city. Mostly they happen at the wonderful Ink Spot in Point Loma's expansive Liberty Station.
I love SDWI and have supported the non-profit for years. This May I'll once again be participating in their annual Blazing Laptops fundraising event at the Ink Spot. Here is the link to my Blazing Laptops page, should you want to donate. I promise to write all day and to keep sharing whatever knowledge about writing I have with new and emerging writers.
I am so lucky to be part of a wonderful community, not just SCWC and SDWI but the world-wide community of artists who have something to say, and want to share it with the world.
9/29/20 RMB Helen Reddy Rest in Peace
1 month ago