REVIEW: “Being and Becoming a Writer” by Karen Lord

Review of Karen Lord, “Being and Becoming a Writer”, in Tod McCoy and M. Huw Evans, eds., Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer (Hydra House Clarion West Writers Workshop, 2021): 13-16 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

How does one give at advice on how to write, when the ways of writing are as numerous and distinct as the writers themselves? This is the question Lord tackles in this opening piece of the anthology, and she attempts to answer it via a series of “things I wish I had known earlier” (p. 13). Her recommendations stem from the practical — learn how to schedule your time, how to meet your deadlines and keep track of your correspondence, how to negotiate — to the cautionary, reminding us of the danger of the “starving/suffering artist” (p. 14).

There isn’t anything groundbreaking in this piece, just good solid things that you may already have learned, but which it never hurts to be reminded of. My favorite recommendation is to “carve out time to keep learning”. So often I see people treat the old adage “write what you know” as a limitation — that if you don’t know something about it, you cannot/should not write about it — rather than seeing it as an opportunity: You want to write about X? Go ye thereforth and learn as much about X as you can!