Can I call myself a writer …

if I don’t write?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’ve been reading Wil Wheaton‘s book “Still just a geek”. It has reminded me to write more regularly, but it has also encouraged me to work more on my next books (I have two in the works). His writing encouraged me because I’m sure I can write just as well. Now I don’t have any “celebrity” so I don’t think my books will sell much – I definitely need to do more ‘marketing’ of my book. Now that it is available on a website that isn’t Amazon, I could choose to buy some Google Ads for the book. I would be very specific and use the search words “breast cancer” and “memoir” such that the person who typed those two words would learn about my book – that would really help increase sales.

Anyways, I’ve decided to spend more time writing. I will make an effort to spend at least one hour per day writing. This won’t necessarily be something that I share – in that I might just write in one of my personal journals.

Other than the book, what else has my inspired to write is a workshop I’m attending put on my April Stearns of Wildfire magazine. I attended the first workshop yesterday. It really helped me get back into writing and some of her prompts have given me an anchor point onto the page. It also felt a little like one of the support groups I’ve been craving. Since Wildfire is about the experiences of those who were diagnosed young, it would make sense that sharing time and stories with this group would feel like a support group. It is exactly what I need right now, as it is helping me move forward with writing practices.

One of the prompts was “what I expected? what I got?” That brought out a interesting series of questions that I was asking myself.

I expected that I had already gone through my ‘mid life crisis’, and yet I find myself needing to reinvent myself yet again. Who am I after this cancer experience? How do I bounce back from it? What are the essences of my life? What is my legacy? and why do I care about legacy?

I find it interesting that I was thinking about legacy – and it brings up the question “why do I care about legacy”. In some ways, legacy helps with the idea of not living a long life, because then something of me will be living on. The world that remains will see my ‘footprints’ in my blogs, my podcast, and my books – oh ya, and my Masters Thesis and various obscure academic publications.

My legacy will be of someone who:

  • helped to build Treehouse Village (although I think that is really more of Scott’s legacy)
  • wrote a book or two about her breast cancer experience
  • wrote a book or two about her 16-month bike trip around the world without airplanes
  • wrote a textbook or two or three or more about instructional design
  • hosted a podcast about instructional design
  • blogged about her travels, her cancer journey, and her lifelong learning journey

I hope that I will also be remembered as a kind, generous, and thoughtful person.

I then ask myself, what parts of my legacy need work? What other things do I need to achieve to make my life feed complete?

I’m definitely having a “mid-life crisis” (or “later-in-life crisis”). I am feeling that I will need to rebuild myself again, and I’m not sure what I want that ‘new me’ to be.

In the fall I will go back to work. I’ll actually start working in August, as I have a lot of prep work to do for the two courses I’m teaching. I know from experience that there isn’t a lot of use in doing it too early – as I will forget what I decided to do – so better to be teaching closer to the time I made the decisions.

I guess that is another part of my legacy – all the students that I have taught and who remember me as someone that pushed them to learn, and helped them realize that they can do more than they thought. I continue to keep working at uMass because I love teaching and I love teaching the students in the instructional design program. Imagine small classes where everyone is there because they want to be and they are eager to learn new things. Yup, that is why I love my current job.

One of the things I know I want to be in my legacy is the work that I have done and do in writing. That encourages me to get back to finishing a couple of books. The Going East book is particularly interesting one, and one that I had regretted not doing when I had my first cancer diagnosis. I’ve done more work on it. I’m putting it all together and hopefully someday before I die, I publish the book(s). I cannot get it into a single book, there is just too much write about – too many stories. I just need to figure out what reasonable sized books are, and then where there are logical places to break things up.

So, I guess, I want the biggest part of my legacy to be about me as an author, which means I need to do a lot more writing!

  • Becky

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