Writing Academy, Memoirs, Novels, Short Stories, Book Proposals

New York City Writing Coach

Gay Walley

Five things that came up in a day of coaching

One thing about coaching writing, and maybe one of the many reasons i love it, is that no one day is the same as the next. Of course it can’t be. Each writer is unique and each work of art is unique so each challenge is unique. So I’ll take a day in the life of today and see what issues came up that maybe can be useful to all of us as we write:

1. I had intended to work on various things of my own and my best friend called upset about a fight with her husband. I consider friendship paramount, so I pushed some things to later. I ended up making up the time so it was not an issue but it shows that no one can control one’s time absolutely. Life happens and we have to accept and respect that.
2. My first student had made a great witty start on a story and there was not too much to say, since he is on his way and sometimes it is best to let the author “run with it” because the author may go somewhere better than I will. We had a half hour session. He saved half his money!
3. My next student is writing a memoir and the material is difficult (holocaust). The book makes connections for her. She solves mysteries in the book that she has not solved in real life. It is incredibly brave and takes enormous stamina. One is going into the dark of one’s closet (unconscious) and finding out what really happened. A memoir surprises the memoirist as much as the reader.
4. A short story writer came and she is excellent and plunges into the first four pages and then feels stuck. But she never really is. The next week she returns with an almost perfect story. But she likes to sit and explore options together. I know she will not use whatever we say but use what we do say to spark her own creativity. It is very exciting.
Five: A woman comes late at night after working a full time job, studying, raising 2 kids, and she always has pages. I am reminded that we make time for writing; writing doesn’t make time for us. I think it was Goethe who said art is made in the tension, and the tension can be not enough time and the act of writing well in the not enough time.

These are lessons for me I see every day. Writers are extraordinary. It is a heroic dedicated act, one of blessed obsessiveness. Dostoyevsky said, Beauty saves. Since art is beauty, there is no doubt in my mind that so does art.