A ROUND TRIP TO WRITING
Guest Post by Anne Hosansky
How did you become a writer?” That’s the Number One question I’m asked whenever I give a reading. I wish I could say it’s been a straight route, but actually it’s been circular with many detours along the way. It began with writing poems and a family newspaper when I was about ten. There’s a starring figure in that past: my grandfather. He had been a sportswriter for “The London Times.”Among his journalistic words of wisdom was the warning that whenever I write a phrase I think is “beautiful,” it should probably be deleted. That’s still one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given.
He’s framed in gold in my memory because he was the first person – and for a long time the only one —to believe I had writing talent. In my adolescent rebellion I told him I no longer wanted to be a writer, but an actress. ”You’ll outgrow it,” he said. It was many years before I did, for I took a long detour into theatre.
I also detoured into marriage and motherhood. What brought me back to writing was the weight I gained when I was home with two young children! I’d taken a sabbatical from theatre but found being a homemaker boring, and comforted myself with cookies. When my younger child was five years old, I intended to go back to acting, so joined a Weight Watchers class to lose those pounds. While there I learned that the company was looking for an editor. The dormant writer in me perked up, applied, and got the job. My husband urged me to go back to acting, but I had rediscovered my first love — writing.
Then came 14 years of editing the company newsletter and writing fat/thin/ articles for it. I also wrote a monthly column of advice for “Weight Watchers Magazine,” but not under my name. The byline was “By Jean) Nidetch, the company founder. I also write intros to the cookbooks under her name. One day a therapist asked how I felt about doing all this ghostwriting. I realized I wanted MY writing to have MY name. It took a while (a few more years!) to gather courage to leave the security of my job in order to freelance. I knew it would help to begin while I still had a job, so I began sending queries to people I’d interviewed for the newsletter. This led to an editor’s request for an article about how executives keep their figures despite power lunches. The article was accepted and the editor asked for more. Encouraged, I quit my job and began writing numerous articles, increasingly non-diet ones.
I also wrote my first short story, but knew it needed work and objective feedback. Though how? The answer came in an unexpected phone call from a woman I’d interviewed. She said that a friend of hers had started a writers’ group, was I interested? Despite an almost fatal case of nerves, I forced myself to “try it out.” I’m still in that group some 27 years later! When people ask if a writers’ group is helpful,I can pnly say that the members in mine gave me insightful comments and patience with my endless rewrites.
The group also gave me incomparable help with my first book. It’s a memoir born from tragedy. My husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Four months after he died I began writing about our struggle against his illness and the ways I was forging a new life as a single woman. I was lucky enough to get a recommendation to an agent from a friend and “Widow’s Walk” eventually found a publisher. Incidentally, that first short story was rejected by 28 magazines. I’d given up until a new member of the group, said 28 was “nothing,” he’d had over 40 rejects per story. I sent mine out again and on the 29th submission it was accepted. Since then I’ve had dozens of stories published, but rarely on a first try. If nothing else I’ve earned my degree in Persistence!
I’ve gone on to write two other books. This has resulted in numerous requests to give readings. My success with those readings is why I call my career circular. For although I thought I’d wasted years being an actress, I believe that being at ease with audiences stems from my years on stage. So life writes its own scripts.
Anne Hosansky’s articles about a variety of subjects have appeared in numerous publications; including Family Circle, Newsday, Women Today, Bereavement Magazine, Institutional Investor, The Best of Weight Watchers Magazine (anthology), etc. She was Contributing Editor of Caring Today Magazine for four years. She also wrote the feature copy for many of the best-selling Weight Watchers Cookbooks.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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