Though writers may live a solitary life clacking away at their keyboard, healthy relationships are vital if they want to be published. At the core of a writer’s relationships is trust. First, I must prove myself trustworthy to my editor. She gives me assignments with a specific word count and depends on me to submit material that keeps pace with a weekly paper. I have learned over several years of newspaper writing that regular communication keeps editors happy and eases the stress of their turn-around times.
My second priority is the relationship I have with the interviewee. Again, I need to gain their trust. I can do this by getting the draft back to them in a timely manner for their approval. I also need to keep their confidence when they tell me that something is off the record.
Another way to respect their trust is to write their story clearly. Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead.” If I take time, I can chip away at the mountain of information I get from them and carve it down to the core of their message. That’s why writers exist. They can create meaning out of chaos; they know how to discern the message, communicate it concisely, orderly, and creatively. Sometimes we take our gift for granted, but it’s God-given. He was the first to create order from the void and cohesiveness from shapelessness. When you have finished a piece, you should say, like He did, “It is good.” When the person we interview is happy with our creation, trust is earned and will be rewarded.
My next important relationship is with the reader. Relevance depends on knowing the readers’ interests. If they are from an agricultural area, I do my best to show respect for their livelihood. If the piece I’m writing appeals more to urban dwellers, I research their business or their sports and music to understand their culture. Interested and satisfied readers ensure longevity in the marketplace.
Finally, I have a relationship with writing. Certain habits make writing easier. Keeping an updated calendar with interview bookings and contact info is necessary. A consistent bank of questions streamlines the writing process. Another best practice is to choose just one angle or theme from which to approach each piece. As I feed the habits and honour the craft, I am rewarded with more productivity and more joy.
Writing, though a solitary life at times, flourishes when trust and relationships are priority.
Writing has always helped Pam Mytroen make sense of marriage, children, grandchildren, teaching English, and chaos of all kinds. That, and a good book with a chocolate chip cookie.