Three talented women. Three different points of view.
All full of awesomeness, grit, and grace.
These modern day rockstars shared with me what led them to write, their favorite personal piece they’ve written, and the advice they’d give anyone with a desire to put pen to paper. By the way, these are the kind of chics you want at a fire-side chat or GNO. Over coffee or a bottle of red, there would be no shortage of wisdom and wit from these three warriors.
It’s my pleasure to introduce: Coop, Petrone, and Utter.
When did you start writing? And why?
Rebecca Cooper: When I was around nine, I can vividly remember taking a journal out to the front steps on our porch at the farm. I sat down, took out a pencil, and in my elementary handwriting – I started writing about how good the sunshine felt. I was terrible at math. Abysmal at science. Couldn’t remember the dates in history.
But I could write.
And once I figured out how good it felt to put my pen on a fresh piece of paper, I never quit. I kept a journal in the second drawer of my dresser. I had a secret MySpace page. I finally figured out how to start my own blog, and then one day – I turned every single junior high memory, and every single failed dating story, and every single dream I ever had into a full-length novel.
It was the outlet that I never realized I needed, and it’s an outlet that I cannot live without.
Liz Petrone: I started writing five years ago when I was trying to claw my way out of the hole that is postpartum depression. I had two older kids, a baby, and no time to do anything or see anyone but I was so lonely. Writing gave me a way to connect and speak my story, both of which I needed so badly. Back then maybe five people would read my posts, but it didn’t matter (still doesn’t). I needed to be writing the way I needed to be breathing.
Jodie Utter: A year ago I was a year into the process of healing from the trauma of infidelity in my marriage and I got stuck, I hit a plateau on the climb up Mt. Instead of Ideal. A friend put the book Love Warrior: by Glennon Doyle into my hands and when my pain connected to the author’s pain inside the parts of her story that twinned with mine, something miraculous happened. I got unstuck. I got up. I got out of the chair I was sitting in when I finished the book and started to use my voice, kick my shame to the curb by telling my own truths, and share my story via writing it in an effort to turn around and help the next one in line do all of the above. And that’s how I finished the hard climb that healing from betrayal is.
What is one piece you have written you really love? Or one that really stands out.
Rebecca: The last novel I wrote, The King and Miss Clark, is the thing for which I am most proud. It’s my fourth novel, and I feel like it took the first three to really get a handle on what I was trying to accomplish. It’s my favorite story, it contains my favorite characters, and even – if you’re reading closely, a few stories from my own life.
Liz: This is one of my favorite pieces that I have written because it truly speaks to the struggle to balance having dreams as a writer (or anything) but also be so grateful for everything we already have. http://www.lizpetrone.com/would-it-be-enough/
Jodie: This piece was the first time I departed at all from using my normal voice and my typical writing style. The words bubbled up and out from the depths in a way that felt so natural and organic, not really even of me at all, but of an unstoppable force for truth and light even though darkness and secrets. I wasn’t even sure my editor would accept it and so I was a little giddy at her reaction of, ‘More of this, please!’ And the praise for the piece just kept coming. Louder than for anything else I’ve written to date or since and so I know I did real good here. It’s fun to be able to say that as a writer because we can be self-flagellating on the regular. This piece is an epic celebration of finding my voice and the innate power and inherent right to use it. It’s also a battle cry for my daughter to holler out as she fights to live a life of beauty and truth and belonging to herself.
What words of wisdom would you give an aspiring writer?
Rebecca: If you want to be a good writer, then you need to be a habitual reader. Read all genres, and read voraciously. And you need to write – every. single. day. Even if it’s just a paragraph, you need to put your pen to a fresh piece of paper and let go.
Liz: WRITE. Just write and don’t worry about who will see it or who won’t or how many clicks you will get or whether it’s arrogant or too soon to call yourself a “writer” in your bio or what your mother in law is going to think about your liberal use of profanity. The rest will come.
Jodie: So you want to be a writer? Then all you need do is write. It’s at once and simple and as difficult as that. Sometimes the words will burst forth as if you’re Old Faithful and you’ve nothing to do but sit back and let the wonder of it happen. Other times you’ll be the Sahara and you’ll question if your next drop of inspiration, your next shower of words will ever come. You’ll fight impostor syndrome and the urge to compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. But then you’ll have a small success and it will fan your flames and amp your hope and confidence that another is just around the corner. Another, even bigger success will be just around the corner but it’ll be preceded and followed by some rejections as well. In all of that, remember ‘why’ you began to write. The ‘why’ will always be your guiding light, your true north, your way back to yourself and your purpose. The ‘why’ will remind you to ignore the noise and to focus on writing that thing you’re called to write, afraid to write, or inspired to write. Your ‘why’ will embolden you to believe that you own everything that’s happened to you and the right to tell us about it all. Beyond all that, writing in the digital age can make you a little crazy, you’re gonna feel like you’re playing Frogger when trying to navigate all the mediums and all the platforms. Your head will swim with best practices advice and you’ll feel like you’re drinking from a firehose in all the wisdom you’ll be offered when you seek it. Move forward in it all at the speed of you, at the rate, your energy and sanity can sustain. Hack it, do it your way. And when you begin to feel consumed and caught up in it all, remember to remember your ‘why.’ Always cling tightly to your ‘why.’ That’s how you’ll get back home.
More awesomeness here:
The London Chronicles
Lost Along the Way
Longbourn State of Mind
The King and Miss Clark
Jodie Utter is a freelance writer and the creator of the blog Utter Imperfection. She has had her work featured on Her View From Home, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Grown & Flown, and more. She calls the Pacific Northwest home and ambles about its captivating forests and breath-taking (quite literally, because brrrrrrr) bodies of water with her husband and two children. She’s a Jill-of-all-trades by day, her favorite of which is writing. By night she’s a voracious reader, film connoisseur, laugher, dancer (as long as no one is watching, you should be picturing Elaine on Seinfeld here) and board game player. Give Jodie a heart-wrenching, tear-tugging story to get lost in via either the reading or the writing of, especially the true kind, and you’ll give her the world. Find Jodi here http://www.facebook.com/utterimperfection and https://utterimperfection.com