Opinion Columns & Blogs

How I found the magic of writing

Reader columnist Karrie Zylstra Myton
Reader columnist Karrie Zylstra Myton Staff photographer

In the summer of 2006, I vacationed at Seaside, Oregon, with my husband and young son. I had finished my degree that year and felt driven to do something with my writing since I finally had “enough” education.

I had dreamed of being a writer for years. Before I could read, I marveled at what it would be like to make squiggles on a paper that others could understand. It looked like fairy magic.

But, aside from my middle school creative writing teacher Mr. Keaton, no one asked me to write stories. When choosing a profession, I never heard of writer shortages or a demand for story care workers.

The push to create still grew greater than my doubts, and I found myself at a bookstore in Seaside, confessing my dreams to an independent bookseller. I am still grateful to her for taking the time to smile and point me to a shelf of books on writing.

Like getting married, having kids or adopting new kittens, the path to becoming a published writer is both nowhere as good as I dreamed and fantastically better in ways I never imagined.

It’s not exactly fairy magic. Writing means waking up early every morning and sitting down to work whether I feel like it or not. Many days I don’t feel like it until I get myself moving.

More often than not, the words won’t flow, and I have to write garbage in order to write at all. I’ve also been at this early morning routine since 2006. If I had known how long it takes to get any good at all, I’m sure I never would have started.

At the same time, I’ve made discoveries that mean more than instant success or extra sleep.

I have met published authors who won the Newbery Award and writing teachers who delighted me with their blogs and classes. I’ve also worked with unpublished authors who write stories I fall in love with. I get to watch their tales evolve into works more like the polished ones I find on bookshelves.

I constantly search for new stories and pieces of the stories I am already working on. I started this column a week before it was due, putting words down each morning. Then, as I went through my day, ideas came flying at me, calling out to me when I was jogging in my neighborhood or standing in front of a class.

Because of this, I know joy will come to me when I least expect it. It’s a wonderful way to live.

Best of all, writing has given me courage. Developing the strength to sit down, string words together and then share them made me grow in ways nothing else could have.

Yes, I get rejected. Sometimes it hurts a little and sometimes a lot. But, in truth, people rejected me before I committed to writing and submitting. Boyfriends dumped me, good friends moved far away and even my children refused to give me hugs because they would look uncool in front of their friends.

I will keep writing and loving even though success is uncertain and even though my best relationships carry risks. After all, sometimes I do succeed and make a connection with another person.

That’s the magic.

Karrie Zylstra Myton of Puyallup teaches at Bates Technical College and writes children's fiction. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. This is her final column. Email her at karriezylstra@gmail.com.