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What is writing: Editor's Notes #296
September 18, 2019

What is writing?
—Margaret Atwood

In this issue:

1. What is writing?
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. What is writing?
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, the follow-up book, The Testaments, and many other award-winning books, was asked when she started writing The Testaments. She shot back, "What is writing?" Then she followed that up with a list of steps in the writing process that included at least these:
  • thinking
  • making notes
  • telling the publisher the idea
  • putting pen to paper

There were years between her thinking and making notes. Then long stretches of time still before she held the finished product in her hand.

If you have taken a book to publication, you already know this journey.

If not, you may question your right to consider what you are doing as writing. Take it from Margaret Atwood, who was first published in 1961, that your first steps do count. They may not end in a particular publication, but they do count as writing.

Those first steps often take the longest. If you are thinking and researching, collecting your ideas, know that you are doing vital work.

It’s a bit like having a baby. When are you having a baby? When you discuss the idea with your partner? At conception? Three months in? In the delivery room? Every day from the idea to the actual birth is having a baby. It all counts.

Writing is like that. Whether you are actively doing what anyone else considers to be writing or not, when you are a writer, it all counts.


2.Tickled my funny bone
Sign in a safari park: Elephants, please stay in your car.


3. Interesting Web site
Here is a collection of quotes about writing by writers you may know.

4. Writing prompt
Margaret Atwood was asked about a timeline, so that is how she set up her answer. But writing is much more than a timeline. What is writing to you? Start with thinking, and when you are ready, write about writing. I’d love to see your final product.

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