Sharon J. Ritchey
Managing a World of Make-Believe
Three years ago, I decided to scratch a writing itch and make a serious attempt at writing fiction. I've spent my career and focused my education in the non-fiction world. And, I loved every minute of it. I’ve interviewed scientists, politicians, business owners, medical personal, and don’t get me started on all of the sample food products I’ve enjoyed through my years working in the food industry.
Along the way, I’ve scribbled some stories and developed some ideas into characters. I even formed a fiction writing group and wrote some bad short stories. I always talked about writing a novel, stepping to the other side of the publishing world, but I didn’t. I used the excuses of lack of time, paralyzing fear of failure, and the fact my writing business was doing well and needed my attention.
But what if...?
I had earned an MFA in writing, creative non-fiction writing, but still I had the degree. I had scores of published pieces and good ideas. I knew how to research and write. And so it began, the idea for a novel. The first attempt was awful, a story about an attorney working in Chicago involved in a native American population along Lake Michigan. I quickly learned I had no idea what I was doing. My characters didn’t talk to me like I had been told they would. I didn’t get swept away by the story and it languished. Then it was deleted from my hard drive.
I needed to learn to write fiction. I’m still learning. I’m still paralyzed with fear
of failure, but as I’ve learned, Pro Tip here –everyone is. The best lesson I’ve learned over these past three years is to join a writing community. I’m grateful to have stumbled on the Women Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). That’s my genre –I didn’t even know. Through WFWA, I have made life-long and life changing connections. I have become a better writer. I’ve also become a better person.
In January, I will take on a new volunteer position as the Director of External Communications for WFWA. I was honored to be asked and I’m paralyzed with fear of failure. I will be responsible for overseeing communication projects like newsletters, online postings, and special contests. Oh wait...I’ve been doing that for over two decades. And yeah, I love all that. My two worlds are connecting. And I can’t wait.