Days of a Working Writer

I want to write.

I got to write.

Cliches. Who minds?

Little time to write more than a  few words.

Complete sentences, maybe.

Is it sign I’m lazy, or just the sign of the times working from six a.m. or sometimes five.


Head stuck in a book.

Close the book.

Son wakes up. Sweet at first. Love the face he makes each morning.

Quickly absolves into kicking and screaming.

Trimming of nails in a battle of wills.

Oh no, pinky bleeding. Clock ticking.


My parents cannot decide who is staying or who is leaving.

Son in the living room, alone, playing.

A stay-at-home mom once upon a time.

Once upon a time is made for those

whose pockets and closets are full.


Rise up fingers as you type.

For I will not be tired

Or mad even if there is no time to write.

Greater events call us writers now.

For there are those who have not, and many who have less.

What will my son have in ten years from my twelve hours of work?


Screaming, kicking in the living room.

I hear the nurse’s words, “They will not take his insurance.”

My son will not be treated. Take him away from those

Who will not treat just as they would not treat my husband’s

Hand when the MERSA took over. His finger will never move

The same way again.


I work and work to accomplish and build a future for

Us that will yield something besides enough to cover bills.

But nothing is as bad as hearing my son

Crying for his mother to come.


Worst mother in the world, maybe.

Block it out. Get to class. Get the A

so that maybe a future boss will see

I got something to give because never again will I work for nothing;

Work for something false prophets say one day will make money.


Take a few moments.

Take a break. He is asleep.

Pick up fingers. Type for me.


By Rebecca T. Dickinson


Pace. Set. Go.

Gotta post it. Gotta post it. Gotta post it … turns into that same annoying song you hear in your head again and again.

It’s on the same as a Brittney Spears’s song. The bad thing about it playing in your head is that you can’t turn it off.

Yes, you can.

One of the hardest things this spring was pacing myself. I wanted to write my stories and edit. I wanted to blog, but time aside, I had a bigger challenge to face. With two classes and a certification test this summer, I know my writing time will be limited again. But, I still have a list of writing goals.

But don’t you just want to let the words go all over the page, the blog, and Twitter?

Yes, a lot of days I just want to write. But, I have had to learn to pace myself. I’m writing tonight because I happened to have a post due for my online class.

Nothing has disrupted my time for writing more than energy. Why? I’m expecting my second child. But, like my first child, jobs, and going to school; it does not stop me from finding a pace for my writing. The moments are short, but I pace myself. I work slowly. If I edit, I want to make sure the story moves a pace suited for the character and story. Do all the pieces connect?

How do you pace yourself?

If you’ve read my blog before you know I have a funny saying: Write like a turtle and edit like a fox. Focusing on the turtle part, I take my time writing. I have moved slower, I guess, because I enjoy it more. I think about the sentences, the characters, and what they would really say. I reach a point in the story where I do not know what will happen next and put it away.

My story, “When Tomorrow Comes,” was published in November 2013. I spent two years writing and editing the story. I changed the beginning three different times. A story I want to finish this summer is called “The Formula.” It is not very long, but it is a story of one thing happening after another.

What are you ready to finish?

I do not know if I’ll finish writing “The Formula.” I hope I will. I hope I will edit it, and be able to enter into something because that is the kind of faith I have in the story. I have learned if I begin writing a story and do not return to it, it was a bad idea. If I hang onto something over a long period of time, I think it’s worth writing.

I spent seven years on Sons of the Edisto. I spend six months to two years on short stories.

Think about the time you spend. If the story is worth it, do you have to finish it right now?

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Remembering Confidence

I am still here.

I am even writing again.

You: You mean you stopped?

The Craziest Best Professor Ever

Creatively, yeah. There was a situation.

Something about working extremely hard for an insane professor who said, “You need to forget everything you’ve ever been told about writing,” and a professor who gave straight A education students Cs for the first time in their lives.

But, I got through it. Leaving that class was one of the happiest nights because I knew I would write freely and creatively again. I knew I would not waste time on useless literary criticism, and spend more time with my family.

I would not hear that professor speak again.

Her last words to me during my early weeks of pregnancy, when I was still in all of my regular clothes, were, “Look at your pouchie. You can’t help it. It’s already showing.”

While nothing showed, I also understood that facing the professor one on one meant a cost to any personal, academic, or professional pride I had left. To ask for an earlier final exam time on a Friday night cost me a small portion of personal pride.


Everything, as writers know, has a cost. To write, edit, and to submit takes quality time if you want your work, cover or query letters to be good. You sacrifice time with family. (Maybe a little time designated for studying.)

I never forgot what one of my mentors said early in my writing career. “If you love something, you will make time for it.”

The spring semester was an exception for me. I sacrificed time for writing to figure out how this professor wanted me to write. The problem was her grading was subjective. She looked for us to make the points she found in the text instead of the important points we found in the text. And, I had never had below a B in an English class.

I panicked to the point I did not want to write for a while.

So my blog sat empty.

My stories remained untouched for several months.

Since my undergraduate years, I had received rejections for stories and to my query letters. At first those rejections upset me, but I got over them.  I valued the professors who gave valuable advice in critiquing my writing. When this professor informed me she graded the same as a previous instructor I’d had, who had been encouraging, I raised my eyebrow and just said, “Yes, ma’am.”

But …

I had to get over her words because I had a deadline for a wonderful publisher for whom I’ve freelanced for a few years. I thought Okay, I can do this. Since the magazine is customer-based, the way in which it is published and edited is different than journalism. The customer can edit the work. But in all the years I’ve written, something  happened that had never occurred before.

One customer rewrote everything I had written for their part of the article. Pregnant, emotional, and defeated, I asked the publisher to take my name off that part of the article or to split it.

Had I forgotten how to write like a (fluff) journalist,  I wondered. Had I forgotten how to write in order or how to write academically,  I thought.

Anything I attempted to type felt disconnected. When I began writing those articles, I realized just how much I let one person get into my head. In conversations with other students, I know she did the same to them, but I had to get out of that funk. I was no longer a writer attempting to be published for the first time or find a job in journalism. I was a professional writer of whom much was expected.

As I read Rachel Isadora’s Luke Goes to Bat to my son about a little boy who wants to play baseball with the older boys and learns not to give up, I am reminded of a simple life lesson. “Don’t give up.”

Better yet: Don’t let someone else ruin your confidence. 


Rebecca T. Dickinson (is back)