The Power of the Pen
April 2024, Island Voices

The Power of the Pen

By Deborah H. Anderson

The original draft of this was written in hunter green. I used to write words that came from my interior place, personal experience words, in mahogany. It’s a shade that looks deep red, like blood poured on the page. Life has gotten a little lighter, and those feeling words are like forest bathing to me, now. Hunter green better suits.

Since the draft of anything I write is in cursive in a spiral-bound notebook, and I am a person deeply affected by color, I have a collection of pens of differing shades and hues, each with its own purpose. Of course, I also have favorite brands and grips. A proper grip urges the words out of the pen like labor contractions. 

I write professionally, so writing eventually becomes collaborative: editors, agents, other writers in critique, beta readers, booksellers. There’s an annual gathering called AWP – Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Over 9,000 writers collect themselves in one place. This year, the location was Kansas City, Missouri, the week before the Super Bowl. 

As you can imagine, the logistics of the conference are vast. It’s a mobility marathon, even if you use an assistive device. Every MFA or MA or BA program in writing sends students and professors. Every ounce of post-surgical physical therapy was focused on me being strong enough to get to, soak in, and enjoy as much of AWP as I could. 

The presentations are either readings of current published works or panels of particular writers or editors on certain topics. The sessions last 50 minutes or sometimes 90. There are about five to seven topics each 50 minutes. The sessions go from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There are three days of that schedule. Evenings, there are genre parties with readings. Simultaneous with the sessions, there are constant readings. Can you even imagine?!

The highlights for me were panels on the benefits of intergenerational intersections for women writers. Two sessions on the needs of writers with disabilities. A session on writing projects that take forever, decades. A panel on crafting the complexities of Jewish women. That was exciting because only the Sunday before, women from the Vashon Ecumenical Book Club had discussed “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kaddish, and there she was on the panel! Telling her “Thank you” for her work brought great joy. 

The first of April, I get to start writing full-time. It has taken years to set up my lifestyle and resources for that. I am finishing writing the draft of this column staring at Mount Rainier while sitting on the porch of Longmire Lodge. Staring at the majesty and strength and snow-covered peace of her is the perfect metaphor for beginning that journey. 

I’ve just asked a stranger to take a picture of me writing. As she took several from different angles, she asked “Memorializing something are we?” Indeed. 

Arriving home after the conference, my tool kit was replenished. It’s one of the few times … let’s just say it’s been a month of goodness that brought challenges settling into the new opportunity. Writing is no longer like giving birth to barbed wire. It brings me joy. It’s not a fast process but much that is good in life is slow. If you have thought about writing, do. If you are a writer, ya’ know. And now, I hit “send,” and my editor buffs and polishes. I’m going to go back to sleep. 

April 8, 2024

About Author

deborah Deborah Anderson returns to write the occasional column for The Loop after a hiatus following twelve years writing “Positively Speaking.” She is currently working on several writing projects including her memoir called “An Irregular Life” and a novel “One Dog, Two Cats, Three Chances” about a widow who moves from the city with her children to a small rural Island in the Delaware River. She loves children, animals, music, books, and adventure. She is a woman of faith. She believes no matter what, love remains.