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Friday, September 10, 2010


Thank you for having me today…to discuss, "Does writing define who you are?"

Another author asked that question the other day and it puzzled me. My first thought was, no, I'm Joyce Henderson, I happen to write books. Still, it is a dilemma when you consider how writers react to certain things.

Many think, all I do is write. I don't exercise like I should. My kids are threatened within an inch of life to not disturb be when my office door is closed. We don't do much socializing. When I'm facing a deadline, my husband knows not to disturb me. He's such a jewel, he makes dinner and entertains the kids. Still, does all or some of that define who you are?

When we see friends or relatives, one of the opening gambits is, "When is your next book coming out?" Or in conversation, "I know an author!" Does that mean in her mind I'm a writer, period? Does she think of me as me? She might say, "My friend Joyce writes novels."

Working writers can't evade rejection, after rejection, after… Well, you get the idea. Even writers who can now claim to be authors because they've sold books are rejected by editors who bought prior work. Why? I don't know other than an editor may know more about trends than the author writing what s/he loves.

How do we take rejection? I'd say most if not all react on a personal level, even though we are told, "It's nothing personal." Right. Tell that to the writer or author who just opened a rejection letter. Nothing could be more personal than the evil retribution that seethes into the writer's creative mind. LOL

After one of the milder desires to kick that editor or agent in the patootie, the writer thinks, Just wait till I sell this wonderful story to another publisher and it becomes a bestseller! Or the writer seeks consolation from other writers. "I got a rejection from so 'n' so." How many writers can truly say they haven't uttered those exact words? Or when trying to console the down-in-the-mouth writer, the other says. "Oh, I've been rejected by just about all the NY publishers."

Did you notice the pronoun, I? "I was rejected…" Trust me. That's what immediately pops to the minds of 99.9 percent of writers and authors. Unless you leaped into this world with pen in hand, or tiny fingers on a keyboard, you are YOU. You may write books, you may write for newspapers or magazines, but without the sum of who you are as a person, you couldn't write the first word.

Don't you always think, Lovely-Lila is an author. Mark Do-right is a doctor. It doesn't make sense the other way. Author is Lovely-Lila. Doctor is Mark Do-right. Did you notice my bio? I write what I know. Actually, I write what I've learned or enjoyed doing over my lifetime. Without those experiences, without studying, without ongoing research that I can get lost in, I couldn't write word one of what I love to write.

So, how would you answer the question: Does writing define who we are? Taking it further: does laying bricks define who you are if you happen to be a bricklayer? Does guarding prisoners define a person as only a prison guard?

At a young age I chose to get married and be a wife, then a mother, and those two things are still a part of me. I've done office work, accounting, ran my own business and managed others, worked with my husband in his business. I've owned and rode horses, farmed avocados and several citrus fruits, bought a few houses, drive a car, danced on stage, swam on a swim team.

So, to answer the question: Does writing define who I am? I rather think I am the sum of loving many people and being loved, of enjoying how I've spent my days, of the memories and friends I cherish, and presently I, Joyce Henderson, have chosen to write novels.

Again, my thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts at LASR.

Please check out my latest release, Capture an Eagle.

Joyce Henderson is a multi-published author who writes Native American Romance set in Central Texas where she was born. Joyce writes "what she knows," horses and ranching, and she loves researching Indian lore. Her work has finalled in national contests: National Readers' Choice Award, Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie, and several others. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, Southwest Florida Romance Writers, Published Authors Special Interest Chapter, Florida Romance Writers, and Novelist, Inc.

Joyce loves to hear from her fans.

Two years in an Eastern boarding school haven't tamed Mariah Kelly. She returns home to Texas as tempestuous as ever, still clinging to a forbidden desire for her brother's best friend. But the insufferably rude man doesn't know she cares for him, and she's not about to tell him.

Silver Eagle has longed for Mariah half his life, but if her father knew, he'd banish the young brave from working at the Broken Spur. Mariah can never know he yearns to possess her as his own.

When Silver Eagle is faced with possible prison for a crime he didn't commit, can he and Mariah find true love in a society that believes a union between a white woman and an Indian man can never be?

Or will Mariah risk all to have her heart's desire and…Capture an Eagle.


Joanne Stewart said...

Very much enjoyed this blog. I loved your take on does the writing define you. I'm going to have to ponder that some before I can truly answer the question. you've made me think! :)

Helen Hardt said...

Excellent post, Joyce! The funny thing is, when my children were small and I had no time to write, I always thought they defined me. To this day, I admire authors who find the time to write while their kids are under ten. Now, I can see more clearly that I am not "one thing" but a sum of many things -- maybe because I'm not completely exhausted from running after two little boys all day! Writing has always been my dream -- but it doesn't define who I am.

Tanya Hanson said...

Wonderful post, Joyce, and the blurb is so enticing! I think writing does define me--I taught writing to high schoolers long before I tried writing a novel, and it seems I've always got a story or scene going on in my head. And now that my kids are grown and hubby is retired, I get to do more of it time-wise.

Good luck with the book! Yee-haw.

Mary Ricksen said...

I don't think writing defines who you are. But, its' a window to your soul, that people can open to know your soul.
You define your writing, and it is a wonderful way to learn about people!
Good luck, Joyce, I wish the very best of sales for you.

Kate Douglas said...

Great post, Joyce, and a question a lot of us must ask ourselves. In my case, at this point in my life, I have to say yes, that my writing does define me. It took me many, MANY years to get past submission/rejection to actually selling my stories, so I'm very proud of what I do--not only that I've found a small amount of success, but that I didn't quit when it looked as if I'd never achieve what I desperately wanted.

I was a good mom, I'm a fairly adequate grandmother and my husband's still hanging around after almost forty years, so guess I haven't messed marriage up too badly *grin* but the thing I take the most joy in and spend the most time doing, now, is writing. Some day it may be something else altogether, but I'll take the definition now, and wear it proudly.

Mimi Barbour said...

Hi Joyce,
Great blog topic. Hummm! Does my writing define me? Well since I write mostly paranormal, I guess I'd rather it didn't, but I will take responsibility for the convoluted plots and humorous characters my ditzy brain comes up with.
If loving what you do defines a person, then I guess I'm guilty. Wouldn't - no couldn't imagine doing anything else now that my name's in print. Writing's just wayyy to much fun.

Maeve said...

Wonderful post and you definitely hit the nail on the head about the range of emotions every writer experiences while trying to make others "love and want" our babies! Thank you!

Margaret Tanner said...

Great blog Joyce, I can relate to most of it.



Leigh D'Ansey said...

Some interesting thoughts here, Joyce. Writing has always been an important part of my life (and thinking about writing!) but like you, it's one of the things I do, not all of me. When I'm writing seriously I do want to be very secluded but it rarely works out that way.

gwen said...

Lots of good thoughts going on here. Defining one's self in print makes one wonder just who am I? I'm always worried about "getting it right". Thank you Joyce for making me really look at myself and defining just who I am, or what defines me to others. I am the past, the present and the future, and even I don't know all the things that perk me up or bring me down...I just am. Love is what draws me in and brings me out. Love of discovery. I don't think "a thing" can define me...I think it has to be an emotion. I love discovery, that's who I am. Gwen McDaniel