April 22, 2009

What Do You Write? - Bonnie Way

Someone once said that going to a conference is like getting a drink from a fire hydrant. There is so much to learn and process in such a short time. Spring WorDshop was like that. I took notes like crazy and left feeling that I had so many ideas, I didn’t know where to start. I’ve been doing more freelancing and writing lately, and seeing some success, but the conference was still a huge encouragement and inspiration.

One question that always comes up, especially among writers, is, “What do you write?” As I stammered out my usual vague answer (“fiction, long and short, nonfiction because it pays, some poetry—in other words, a bit of everything”) and listened to a few other equally vague answers, I thought, “I need a better answer.” I was among writers here—why did I still find it hard to talk about what I write?

This conference, I actually came prepared with business cards to exchange with writers I chatted with and wanted to keep in touch with (thanks to Kathleen Gibson, who gave me that tip about ten years ago at my very first Fall Conference). And I did exchange a few cards with a few other writers. As I left this conference, I decided that I needed to come prepared with an answer to “what I write” as well.

It’s a question that we writers face anytime someone asks us “What do you do?” and we answer, “I’m a writer.” Somehow, we’re a species of professionals that are rather a curiosity to others. Maybe because we’re rare. Maybe because of the romantic glow that surrounds the writing profession—the idea that we just sit at our desks for a few hours a day, churn out bestsellers, and earn millions like Francine Rivers—or at least enough to pay the bills, as Sigmund Brouwer says.

So what do I write? I’m currently a contributing writer for Suite 101.com, where I post short articles on a variety of topics, from parenting to travelling. I’m also working on travel articles and book reviews for a variety of publications. I’m the editor of FellowScript and try to write a few articles about writing for other writing newsletters. And I’ve also written a few novels, which I need to polish and submit.

How about you? What do you write?


  1. Good to see you at the WorDshop, and it was a full time!

    Your article gets me thinking too about that question. I wonder about answering "What do you write?" with "I write with all my heart" or "My goal is to write truth that has a positive effect on people's lives" or "I write fiction (or whatever) with an ear open to God because only He knows what readers need to hear."

    When I say "articles" or whatever, their eyes glaze over. Do you think something else would open or close more conversation??

    Your post is making me more daring!

  2. Do I have to answer your question?
    Thank you for the challenge. It made me think. You are right - we do need to have an answer, it will help us to focus our writing and have something to aim for.
    I'll be brave and say I'm writing a novel - the same one for the third time now. (revising...revising...). And I write music reviews (interviewed Patricia Conroy if you are a country fan), and the odd devotional. Phew, I did it! Thanks.
    Pam M.


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