Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Writing the Wartime Experience

Driving in my car without my kids is when I get to listen to National Public Radio. (The kids are less fans of talk and usually request music.)

On September 22, Talk of the Nation did a program about the Missouri Warrior Writers Project. "The project has developed a series of workshops and a competition to give veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the chance to tell their stories. At the conclusion, their poetry, fiction and nonfiction will be considered for publication in an anthology, and three winners will be chosen from an open call for submissions among active duty and veteran military personnel."

I am not a veteran, and I don't know if any veterans read this blog. (But if they do, they should go ahead and enter the contest!)

Neal Conan, the host of the programe, interviewed Mark Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down, and one of the judges for the contest. During an interchange, Bowden said something that really stuck with me: "I always tell my students that to learn to write is - ought to be an ambition in and of itself. Some people may manage to make a career writing. Most of my students probably won't, but I want them to take something away from the class that they can use that will help them throughout their lives."

It's taken me a good many years to understand that learning to write is an ambition in and of itself. And that learning to write involves writing many words, reading many books, and practicing till your fingers bleed (okay, I'm nothing if not melodramatic!).

Here's the information about the Missouri Warrior Writers Project. And a question: How have YOU learned to write?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm a trained journalist and did a year's specialist college course before a three-year apprenticeship serving under some tough sub-editors who drilled style, accuracy and speed into their charges.

    It was only after completing a gruelling four-exams-in-a-day test that I was allowed to call myself a writer.

    Since then I have worked to hone my skills (for 35 years!) both by writing and reading (not to mention listening to theatre productions, radio drama, lectures, etc.)

    I write because I cannot imagine doing anything else. I earn my living that way (now as a communications officer) and when I get home I hit the keyboard as a creative writer.

    I honestly think I'd die if I wasn't able to.

  3. This sounds a worthwhile project and could be very valuable to veterans. Writing is often a way of coming to terms with difficulties of one sort or another.


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