The Write Stuff By Darlene Ryan

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One of my favorite movies is the Billy Crystal/Danny Devito comedy, Throw Momma from the Train. In it Crystal’s character, a creative writing teacher, gives what I still consider is the best piece of writing advice, “A writer writes.”

I know it seems sort of obvious, but think about it. Writes. Not watches friends. Not plays solitaire on the computer. Not sleeps late on Saturday morning.

A writer writes.

Not talks about writing. Not spends three months fixing up an office to write in.

A writer writes.

Last November my first book was published. That happened because for months and months before, I was writing. I didn’t really have any time to write. I was a first-time mother to a beautiful thirteen month-old daughter adopted from China. And after my husband’s short parental leave expired, I was a single mom five days out of every nine.

I got up early every morning and scribbled on a lined pad at the kitchen table, part of my mind always listening for my baby to start babbling in her crib and then wondering if I was a bad mother leaving her there for just five minutes more while I finished a paragraph. I wrote at night after she was asleep, hunched at the computer on an old chrome kitchen chair that was too uncomfortable to fall asleep on.

The book was the story of the journey-literally and figuratively-that had brought me to my child. I wanted someday to be able to hand my daughter her story.

I wanted to write that book more than anything. More than I wanted to lie in a tub steaming with the scent of eucalyptus. More than I wanted to talk to someone with a vocabulary beyond “bye” and “up.” More than I wanted to sleep.

A writer writes.

Now there are interviews and book signings. I have four articles coming out in the next couple of months and another book that’s almost finished. My baby starts kindergarten in the fall. Her father is training for a second career as a flight instructor. I’m going back to school to study French. I still don’t have any time to write. But I do.

A writer writes.

Darlene Ryan is the author of A Mother’s Adoption Journey, published by Second Story Press. Please see: