In the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birth nine years ago, I aimed to finish a book, knowing I’d want to focus full-time on parenting. When my late wife was undergoing cancer treatment and I was juggling many roles and even more emotions, I felt compelled to write my next book – basically for my sanity! I set a deadline for myself. My novel was published a couple of years later. After the publication party, I considered what I wanted to write next, set a deadline, got to work, and stuck with the work. Motivation? More celebrations!
And as the world went berserk all around us, it was good to work on an additional book, one about feminism (created especially for teens), rather than scroll endlessly through bad news on my phone. Recently, during my 90-year-old mom’s final decline I pushed through to meet another book deadline. When she passed I was able to put writing aside for a time, and fully release into grief. Writing has been a friend to me, a joy and solace, during the ups and downs of life. Working as a coach and editor has allowed me the privilege of being that friend to my fellow writers.
Whether Writing or Hula-Hooping, It’s All About the Practice
Births, deaths, celebrations, moves, relationship changes, job changes, health crises, international travel– some events can be predicted and some can’t. But there is something empowering (and good for a writer’s sense of integrity and fabulosity) about setting deadlines. Even if we miss the mark a bit – getting up and trying again will get us there. There’s a 12-Step truism that nails the point. Please let me say it with a highball glass in hand! “It works if you work it.” I find this true for both writing and hula hooping. (See pic.) The more I work it, the more Mr. Mojo rises! When a major life change can be predicted, I use that as motivation to meet my writing goals. And when life is just chugging along, I find it best to keep chugging toward those goals as well, knowing that comedy or tragedy (or a surprise dance number!) may make a sudden entrance at any moment.
We may not be able to control the forces of nature and the actions of others, but we can create something in the world right here and now. An inspiration to me is my late friend Alex Sichel. We knew each other first through the
Writers Room in New York City. Life sped up with many, many wonderful events: books, television and film projects, our marriages, children, university teaching and more. We lost regular touch but would run into each other from time to time. Then in 2012, cancer brought us back together. My late wife Anne had it, and so did Alex. Our families re-connected deeply and profoundly. In January 2013 Alex took my Bang the Keys Writing Workshop. In it, she worked on what would become her final film — a narrative/documentary hybrid called A Woman Like Me. My wife Anne died that summer at age 49. Posthumously, the Brooklyn Free Medical Clinic she founded was named for her. Alex died the following summer, at age 50. It will be five years ago this week. Her film was released in 2014 and documents as well as fictionalizes her experience of facing the final months of her life. Cancer could not stop either of these remarkable women (and fierce feminists) from leaving behind legacies for their children and for the world.
Connection, Connection, Connection
As a longtime ally to the writing community, I know it helps to have a caring ally guide you. Oh, hell you know what I mean: tell you what to do and make you do it! I’ve been described as nurturing but whip-cracking (in bed). Come to think of it, as a writing coach, too! And in my experience, writing is all about connection. Connecting to yourself. Connecting to your reader or viewer. But sometimes you need someone you can connect to, to help light the way.
Make Contact With Me
If you are interested in working with a coach/editor, please reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can get into specifics, and I will help you to make this the most productive summer of your life! And it will be fun!
Writing Video and Bio
Here is a little video that gives you a sense of my personal touch (readily available by phone, email, Skype, and other 21st Century as well as Steam Punk methods of technology)!
BIO: Jill Dearman’s books include: Feminism (Nomad Press 2019), a history of the subject for teens; The Great Bravura (She Writes Press 2015), a novel; and Bang the Keys (Penguin 2009), a guide to craft and practice for writers. Her personal essays and short fiction have been published widely. A writing coach and editor for over 15 years, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School and is a part-time Professor of Creative Writing at NYU’s College of Liberal Studies/Global Studies. She is represented by Susan Golomb of Writers House.
For more: www.jilldearman.com. Please share with writers as you see fit.