As editors at yeah write, we’ve been given permission to violate the rules for this week. I’m given permission to violate the fiction-only rule at the speakeasy by posting this on here. And I’m violating the yeah write challenge by surpassing the 600-word limit, but it’s someone’s special birthday.
I was looking for something a little more than just a blog. I had read plenty of them to know what I didn’t want to do. I had a degree in Creative Writing, dammit. But even I knew that wasn’t enough. Anyone could go to college and earn a degree. All it really meant was that you can go to class and finish a course. I had written a few good essays, but that was it.
After college, I moved to Los Angeles and joined a few writing groups, but all I got out of it was an ear for those writers who had no interest in the craft, but were more fascinated by the sound of their voice. It was an ego trip after ego trip. The quality writing groups cost money I didn’t have, but I was tired by then. I put my writing away and focused on other interests. I was looking for a community that didn’t exist.
More than a decade later, I moved up to Oregon and, by chance, ran into a newly formed writing group made up of professional writers and freelancers. What really excited me was the lack of ego and sincere feedback that was both constructive and encouraging. I was hooked. Then I got an idea: I wanted to write a memoir—not because my life had been extraordinary or because I had profound insight about the meaning of life. No, I wanted to write a memoir because that genre fit into my favorite style: the personal essay.
So, at the tail end of 2013 I decided to start a blog of my own. I wanted to fill it with personal essays. I wanted to gauge other’s interest in my writing, but not from friends and family. I wanted to send them out and see where they went on their own, without the positive feedback of a kind friend or sympathy of a family member. If I was going to do this, these pieces would need to stand on their own strengths or falter on the weakness of a first, second, or even third draft.
I dragged out that first essay from college and searched online for a literary magazine that would find it a home. During that search, I found yeah write. It took me a couple of days to read all the links—guidelines, tips, and rules. I read them again. And then again. I couldn’t believe such a place existed for blog writers. What appealed to me the most was probably what most writers were afraid of: rejection. If my piece wasn’t good enough, I would not be accepted and I would need to try harder. On top of that, I got instant feedback. It’s what makes a serious writer a real writer—the ability to hone their craft until it’s just right. That can only happen if you send it out and get honest critique.
This site is for bloggers looking for meaning in their writing. It’s a mentor for the writer seeking self-worth as a writer, and more importantly… It’s a community of writers.
I submitted a few posts and made it on to the grid! Then I got an email from Erica. Would I be interested in joining yeah write as a submissions editor? I panicked. I’m not an editor. I never considered being an editor. But I accepted. It would be a challenge (and it is!) but being my worst critic, it would offer me a chance to reflect on my own writing as I point out other writer’s flaws. By no means am I better than anyone. I will always be the perpetual student, eager to learn and grow. By no means am I a perfect editor, either. It’s a process I’m learning as I go. This is what yeah write has offered me. Happy birthday, yeah write!