A Letter from a Reader
Bennet Pomerantz

I willingly trust myself to chance. I let my thoughts wander, I digress, not only sitting at my work, but all day long, all night even. It often happens that a sentence suddenly runs through my head before I go to bed, or when I am unable to sleep, and I get up again and write it down. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

You must write, not just think you're going to...And you must widen your vocabulary, and enjoy words. You must read widely, not in order to copy, but to find your own voice. It's a matter of going through life with all one's senses alive, to be responsive to experience, to other people. ~ PD James

Whether watching TV, the computer screen, or hard copy, the mindset is the same: Have remote; will surf." Your job as a writer is to make that kind of reading possible by presenting your most important information upfront and leaving to readers how much or how little detail they want. ~ Dianna Booher

If you want to put across a thought (an idea, a moral) in your story, don't begin with that. Before you can reach your reader and make him come over to your side in his beliefs, you must reach him though his emotions. You must make him feel. In order to make him feel, let him experience a sensation or emotion with one of the characters. If you as a writer can make the reader identify himself or herself with an emotion felt by that character, then what is painful, for example, to that character becomes painful to the reader.
~ Phyllis A. Whitney

Sometimes Inspiration for this column comes from a simple letter. I got a letter from a reader today in my e-mail. It intrigued me a lot. So I have reprinted here as I received it.

**I have done business proposals and grant writing for small businesses and the government of my country. I do not wish to do this only. I have also written poetry and got it published in one of our local newspapers. But, again, I do not want to write poetry only. I have an avid interest in human interest stories both in relation to the experiences of others and mine as well. And so, I have done some research on the Internet on the writing of the Narrative Personal Essay or articles. I have begun to work on this type. It appeals to me a lot more. Although there is a basic structure, it allows more free rein over the prose generally. I have been trying to discover the type of writing which will not allow me to feel ''boxed in'' or caged in or trapped by rules. Am I making much sense to you? Where should I go from here? Can I really make this type of writing my career? Should I really enroll at a college or university to get formalized training in writing? Maybe a degree or diploma. I am afraid that I may not receive employment because employers may ask for credentials and I won't have any. **

Dear Reader:

Being diverse in different styles of writing is important for any writer. Currently, other than my Audioworld column, I write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, my personal op-ed column "To Be or What?", this column, and any other writing assignments that float my way.  Don't ever let yourself get pigeonholed into one genre or one style. At least you understand this ideal early. Trying new things with your writing will prevent your being boxed or caged in, as you said.

Can you make writing your career? Are you willing to devote time to your writing craft? Are you willing to try new ideas all the time? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself, I cannot answer for you. . . neither can anyone else. Writing is a job, like any other. You need to focus on this if you want to make writing a career. My father told me I don't have a job, because I don't have a 9-5 job, I work harder than most people who work in a 9-5 job. I work daily at writing, even on weekends and holidays.

Like an actor, you may have to take other jobs or careers until you start making your writing pay. If you think no one else did before you, you would be very surprised. Stephen King was a substitute teacher and wrote short stories for magazines while he wrote his first novel, Carrie. Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman, before The Hunt for Red October was such a best seller. Evan Hunter (Ed McBain), Raymond Chandler and F. Scott Fitzgerald all wrote scripts for either movies or radio shows while they were penning novels.

In your letter, you sound like a young person. In this writer's opinion, school and education is a very important option for anyone (I still take classes and workshops)...and it's never too late to learn.  I think getting a degree is important to anyone, and especially writers. In this day and age, more education is important. This is what employers are looking for these days.

As for writing credentials, you seem like you have some already.  Because you have done business proposals, you can get letters of reference from those companies or government agencies you have previously written grants for. Keep pounding the boards, work hard at achieving your writing goals, wherever they may be.

I do hope one day, I can read your work, whether it be a novel, a poem or a human-interest piece. Let me know what you are doing. And always I wish you well in any of your writing endeavors

My email is [email protected]. Drop me a line - it's always open 24/7/366 (almost like 7-11) for anyone to send their comments, suggestions, writer questions or inquiries, winning lotto numbers (just kidding - whoever gave the me the numbers 2-6-8-22-28-97, it didn't win Super ball, but thanks anyway), and of course, great chocolate chip cookie recipes for diabetics.

So next time, reach for the stars!

This article is the sole property of the author. It is produced here with the author's permission.  The unauthorized use or reprinting of an article is illegal, and will be prosecuted at the discretion of the author.

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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.