Monday, August 6, 2007

Horn tooting

I opened my hotmail inbox this morning to a barrage of emails from readers of my column asking why it did not appear in Sunday's issue of the magazine.

Oh Crap! was my response and I emailed my editor to find out what happened.

I don't tell her how many emails I get every week from my readers. I don't want to come across as boasting. Really I don't.

It seems to be the bane of the majority of writers not to want to toot their own horn, and I am as guilty as their are. I tend to "keep it on the down low" - yep I am also guilty of using popular slang when I can't think of a better way of saying what I want to say.

Yet I know it is important to use every opportunity to act as my own PR person, as it were. After all, if my editor doesn't know that readers respond to the column, she might dump it. And where would that leave me? It is my only steady means of income from my writing. Other publications are not regular so the incomes from those are simply welcomed and happily so. They are the desserts and some are lucrative enough to be classed as the cherry and nuts on top.

That's one of the reasons I like writing a regular column, especially a weekly one. A weekly column is a guaranteed weekly income, I receive each month.

Still I don't take it for granted. I believe with all my heart that it is a gift from God. Ever since I picked up my dream, writing for the Trinidad Guardian has been my goal.

I know that Magazines, including newspaper magazine supplements revamp their style and content ever so often. I just pray that what I have been bringing to the table is valuable, timely and reader-sensitive enough to ride the wave of change when it comes.

I don't take it lightly. Responses from readers have kept me focused on working hard to produce work that will inspire, motivate, encourage and even heal. More important, they want my writing to be infused with my personality, my life experiences and the lessons I've learned.

It is a heavy responsibility. It is burdensome at times. It takes hard and disciplined work. It takes time to do research and pull my thoughts together. It takes time to write and edit and rewrite and edit and edit and edit some more. It is difficult to cut out chunks of words, sentences, paragraphs and complete points to keep within the required word count. Of course the benefit is that I am always left with enough material for two or three different or related topics.

Writing is a joyful and soul-enhancing exercise. The birds welcoming the new day with their songs, the smell of the morning dew, the sounds of cars rolling down the street with people on their way to work, the movement of my family as they organize themselves to leave for the day and the smell of coffee percolating in my kitchen - these are all part of my early morning writing ritual. It starts my day out right. It hypes my inspiration and creativity and that is sheer joy.

My first writing session for the day puts everything in perspective. I zero in on my first morning thoughts, stuff I scribbled on the notepad on my side table during the night, my writing to do list and my other responsibilities for the day.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I couldn't write. I imagine that my life would be empty, void of the creative high and fulfillment I now enjoy. Oh I'm sure I could settle into some other creative endeavor. I have other interests. But none of them has revved my mind, my heart or enthusiasm for life as writing has. It is indeed my oxygen.

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