Dear Loved One

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Guest blogging at is very welcome.

My guest is Karen Sanderson, aka the Word Shark, from North Dakota. I “met” Karen through blogging; we have become electronic penpals. She caught one of my posts, liked it, and invited me to guest blog for her. Here’s Karen’s “return” post. Enjoy!

Dear [Loved One]: I am a writer

My name is not Shakespeare, Poe, Bronte, or Rowling, but I am a writer just the same.

I may not be a doctor, lawyer, or executive chief, but my writing – to me – is just as critical. Can you indulge me, just a few moments?

You read articles in People, Sports Illustrated, Time, or Cosmo about the problems with celebrities and their children, the latest athlete arrested for drugs or spousal abuse, the trouble on Wall Street, or how to apply your make-up for a night on the town. However, when I try to talk to you about the article in Writer’s Digest about e-book vs. print book or how to improve my web presence, you give me the hand wave and say, “Who cares?”

Letter to a "loved one"
Letter to a “loved one”

You’ll spend a half hour with your nose in a catalog for new clothes, a new computer, or new hunting gear. I’ll spend a little time trying to find that just-right creative writing class or the perfect book for getting my novel to market, and you tell me I’m wasting my time.

I supported you when you wanted to start a small business, when you wanted to get out of a small business, when you wanted to start a new job, or retire. When I have a great idea for a new book or realize the book I’m writing must be shelved, you say, “Oh well” without lifting your head.

I’ve spent hours in the car with you to get to the ball game, watch the ball game, and get home from the ball game. I’ve watched, waved, and smiled as you pull out of the driveway on your way to that week-long hunting or fishing trip or when you were going for a girls’ weekend at the spa. But when I plan a day-long workshop at the local university or a weekend conference in Vegas or Seattle, you ask me, “What about the kids?” “What about dinner?”

I’ve sympathized over your aching joints or shin splints, your aching back, and your stress-related headaches. But when I describe my tired, bloodshot eyes or I’m afraid I might have carpal tunnel, you remind me you told me I shouldn’t spend so much fruitless time at the computer.

I’ve observed as you spend hours watching L&O marathons, night after night of Dancing With The Stars or American Idol or weekend sporting events. But if I ask for one hour of uninterrupted time to hash out a new outline or finish my edit, you complain.

You go online and spend hours sifting through junk email, silly chain mail, and funny pictures. You play farm games, card games, or puzzle through Sudoku. I spend online time with writers, agents, publishers, editors; I learn about writing, how to query an agent, or how to land a publisher. And you wonder why I don’t do something productive.

You regale me with stories of the quirky character at the grocery store, the fabric store, or the paint guy at Home Depot. But if I try to describe one of my book characters, one of my villains, or my protagonist’s triumph, your eyes glaze over.

I agreed when you wanted to upgrade to a $1,000, 54-inch TV, when you wanted another new car or yet another pair of designer leather boots. Yet you scoff when I want to spend $500 on a weekend writers’ conference or a professionally-designed website.

You spend hours tending your garden, washing and waxing your F-150 baby in the driveway, or creating the perfect lasagne. But you tell me I’m wasting time when I struggle over the perfect paragraph, the perfect opening line, the perfect surprise twist.

I celebrate with you when your second cousin in Alaska has her first baby, your aunt and uncle buy a retirement condo in Florida, or your friend in Arizona graduates from ASU. The birth of my novel is barely a blip on your radar.

I have coddled you through the flu, knee surgery, and that pesky rash. I have consoled when you were depressed and commiserated with you over what the boss had the nerve to do on any given day. Yet when I try to tell you how much mind-bending, sleep-losing trouble I’m having with my final chapter, you suggest I just give it up.

You will read a book if it’s on the NYT Best Sellers list (by someone you don’t know and have no hope to ever meet), a tell-all book by a politician you didn’t vote for, or a memoir by your favorite sports figure. Why won’t you open my manuscript?

You read numerous blogs every week about cupcake-decorating, care and feeding of a Labrador, how to paint a War Hammer figurine, or how to grow the perfect rose bush. Why won’t you sign up for my blog?

I hope we never have to talk about the death of my dream. I’m afraid you won’t listen.


Karen Sanderson
Karen Sanderson

About the Author: Karen was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun. Her favorite book is the dictionary.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, writer, and grandmother. Visit her blog. Connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. See her new website at The Word Shark.

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Lindsay McLoughlin has a love affair with social media. She combines these tools to great effect with her other big love – blogging! She runs a copywriting, blogging, editing and proofreading service at She loves talking to and interacting with anyone that will “listen” over social media. Check out her blog at or connect with her on social media. She’d be delighted!

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12 Responses to Dear Loved One

  1. I have been so lucky to have supportive friends and family — though, I don’t think my husband really took it as seriously as he “pretended” to until my first check arrived and we did something tangible with it in our little log house.

    But there will always be those friends who never pick up your book, never come to an event, and act as if what you do is a hobby – and even say, “Kat’s hobby is . . . .” – it’s often a hard “business” to understand and support and sympathize with, since so many say they are writers but never write a thing.

  2. Ahh, Karen, this made me so sad. The writing/reading world seems to be shrinking…
    I am truly fortunate to have a supportive husband -my writing widower – I affectionately call him. We bloggers are lucky to have each other’s support, too.

  3. A great article Karen. The non creative world often doesn’t understand. I am lucky to have very supportive friends and family. In fact my husband just this weekend encouraged me to keep trying when I was having some self doubt. I also know many who do not get the support they need. Perhaps they should send this to their loved ones.

  4. Oh boy, this was difficult to read (too much truth there?) but it also felt GREAT to read, because, really, WHY CAN’T YOU PAY ATTENTION TO MY PASSION (my question to the friends/famliy who read the magazines, watch the stupid TV shows, comment on the antics of celebrities who they know nothing about, but don’t have the time to even ask about my writing. Okay, phew, that felt good. Great blog. Thanks Karen. I am SO glad we’ve become blogging writing friends!

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