Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Zeal for Writing

 

I am obsessed with writing. Seriously—I am. I wasn’t always that way, but it’s impossible to deny it at this stage of my life.

I’ve always written pretty well, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I had good teachers, a simple writing style, and even though I was accused by some teachers on a number of occasions of veering slightly (or greatly) off topic, they forgave me because what I wrote was usually articulate and interesting. (Of course, I couldn’t get away with that more than once with any particular teacher.)

I didn’t intentionally go off topic. It’s just that my creativity took me in unexpected directions, and before I knew it, I was writing about something other than the assigned topic. But I loved what I’d discovered so very much! Sometimes I didn’t realize how far I’d wandered away from the theme; at other times I took my chances and turned in my papers. Besides, I was a respectful and hard-working student and that gave me plenty of cover.

I didn’t start to write seriously until I began my own businesses. (I don’t think I can include essays on Whiskers the cat that I wrote for the local newspaper when I was ten years old.) When I taught writing courses, and later started up a consulting business, I wrote articles for professional organizations on related topics, mostly as a way to promote myself. I enjoyed that writing, but my topics were limited to the work I did.

Later I wrote a book (that is now out of print), and I think I loved the process as much as I enjoyed the writing.

But in March 2014, I discovered Ricochet—that really seeded my obsession for writing.

I’d never written for or commented on a blog before Ricochet. I lurked for several months and was inspired by the lively, intellectual and funny discussions. I finally dove in and wrote an article on being a conservative Buddhist*. It was not only well-received, but it was promoted to the Main Feed! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. And I was hooked.

I am in love with the writing process. From the germination of an idea, to making initial notes to see if my enthusiasm grows, to writing a brief outline, to composing a draft—all of it captivates me. It’s like watching one of those films where a flower seed is planted, and I see the first stem magically poke its head above the soil, watch it spread its petals and turn into something beautiful. Then again, sometimes my posts turn out more like weeds or stinky bulbs. I always hope I catch those before I post them.

Writing is a way to share who I am; it’s way to get to know all of you better, to learn from you, to laugh with you. I can’t count the number of times readers have kindly corrected me, passionately challenged me, and made me laugh at myself. I treasure all of those exchanges, where my posts are more like the planted seeds and your comments are the stems, the leaves and the exotic flowers that open.

Of course, zeal can create problems. I try to be sure that nothing gets in the way of my commitments to my husband and friends. I write when I am alone and usually undisturbed and I protect my privacy. On busier days with promises to keep, my writing waits in my Ricochet folder until I am prepared to post it and exchange thoughts with the readers. Writing for Ricochet has become one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life. My zeal for it only grows.

I feel blessed that I’m a decent writer and that many of you read and respond to what I write.

Thank you.

 

*I returned to my Jewish roots and no longer practice Buddhism.

There are 27 comments.

  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    I noticed in your biography that you were an English major at Oberlin. Quite a transformation to writing on Ricochet!

    Edit: Amazon’s biography links to a different Susan Quinn. Never mind.

    • #1
    • October 24, 2018, at 6:41 AM PST
    • Like
  2. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Great post! I come from a family that seems to have quite a few writing addicts.

    We often mistakenly think of writing as an activity all its own. For me, writing is an extension of thinking – and the best way to crystallize and test what we think we think.”

    “How do I know what I think, until I read what I write?”

    • #2
    • October 24, 2018, at 6:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    I noticed in your biography that you were an English major at Oberlin. Quite a transformation to writing on Ricochet!

    Umm . . . unless you’re teasing me . . . I think you read someone else’s biography @vectorman.

    • #3
    • October 24, 2018, at 6:46 AM PST
    • Like
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    iWe (View Comment):

    Great post! I come from a family that seems to have quite a few writing addicts.

    We often mistakenly think of writing as an activity all its own. For me, writing is an extension of thinking – and the best way to crystallize and test what we think we think.”

    “How do I know what I think, until I read what I write?”

    Absolutely, @iwe! Even when I would write letters to friends, I was usually working through something. I forgot to mention in my post, too, that I had two ezines: the first was on business/relationship topics; the second was on spiritual issues. I stopped the first when I felt I’d covered most of my thinking. I stopped the second when I returned to Judaism; I sensed that most of my readers were “free spirit” types and wouldn’t appreciate my thoughts on returning to my faith. Maybe I was wrong. But I’m having fun right here!

    • #4
    • October 24, 2018, at 6:49 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    @vectorman just pointed out that the bio on another Susan Quinn is on my book’s page on Amazon! That’s not me. I’ve notified Amazon of the mistake.

    • #5
    • October 24, 2018, at 7:07 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. KentForrester Coolidge

    Susan, I will only believe that you love to write when you confess that you love to reread your own posts, sometimes months and perhaps years after you’ve written them. And while rereading, you say to yourself, “What a wordsmith I am!”

    I’m not saying that I do that. In fact, I would not even think of doing that because it smacks of an immoderate admiration for one’s own writing. Remember, pride is the deadliest. . . .

    Confess. 

    While you’re at it, confess that your favorite book is a thesaurus. 

     

    • #6
    • October 24, 2018, at 7:29 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, I will only believe that you love to write when you confess that you love to reread your own posts, sometimes months and perhaps years after you’ve written them. And while rereading, you say to yourself, “What a wordsmith I am!”

    I’m not saying that I do that. In fact, I would not even think of doing that because it smacks of an immoderate admiration for one’s own writing. Remember, pride is the deadliest. . . .

    Confess.

    While you’re at it, confess that your favorite book is a thesaurus.

     

    Honestly, I don’t re-read them after I post them. I was surprised when you said you did. There are too many other good posts to read. And I will admit that I use the “synonym” application in Word–what would I do without it??

    • #7
    • October 24, 2018, at 7:32 AM PST
    • 1 like
  8. danok1 Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    For me, writing is an extension of thinking – and the best way to crystallize and test what we think we think.”

    “How do I know what I think, until I read what I write?”

    Yes, @iwe! I’ve often said to my colleagues that I need to write about something in order to find and crystallize my thoughts. (They then look at me as if I’m an alien life form.)

    I’m pleased to find that I’m not the only one who needs to do this.

    • #8
    • October 24, 2018, at 7:35 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. MarciN Member

    I attended a lecture years ago on middle school curricula. Our school district was moving to 90-minute class periods for grades 5 through 8, which struck us parents as crazy long for kids that age. We became converts to the idea, however, when the speaker said that researchers had studied learning for kids that age and that for them to really “know” some aspect of a particular subject, they needed to hear about it, read about it, write about it, and teach it. The 90-minute classes would give kids time to do all those things.

    The human mind is a fascinating place. :-)

    • #9
    • October 24, 2018, at 7:47 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Vectorman Thatcher

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Our school district was moving to 90-minute class periods for grades 5 through 8, which struck us parents as crazy long for kids that age.

    It depends upon the subject. When you have 90 minute classes, most school systems only teach the subject 3 times a week. This works for science (i.e., labs take significant time) and other subjects that emphasize writing, such as history and literature. For math, it’s best to keep classes relatively short (<1 hr.) and have class each day of the week. Even in college, math classes seldom last more than 1 hour.

    • #10
    • October 24, 2018, at 8:07 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. KentForrester Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, I will only believe that you love to write when you confess that you love to reread your own posts, sometimes months and perhaps years after you’ve written them. And while rereading, you say to yourself, “What a wordsmith I am!”

    I’m not saying that I do that. In fact, I would not even think of doing that because it smacks of an immoderate admiration for one’s own writing. Remember, pride is the deadliest. . . .

    Confess.

    While you’re at it, confess that your favorite book is a thesaurus.

     

    Honestly, I don’t re-read them after I post them. I was surprised when you said you did. There are too many other good posts to read. And I will admit that I use the “synonym” application in Word–what would I do without it??

    Susan, I wouldn’t have even suggested I do that if I had known that you didn’t do that. So please forget I ever brought up the subject. I never do that. I never even think of doing that. I was only trying to draw you out. Really. 

    • #11
    • October 24, 2018, at 8:08 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. MarciN Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Our school district was moving to 90-minute class periods for grades 5 through 8, which struck us parents as crazy long for kids that age.

    It depends upon the subject. When you have 90 minute classes, most school systems only teach the subject 3 times a week. This works for science (i.e., labs take significant time) and other subjects that emphasize writing, such as history and literature. For math, it’s best to keep classes relatively short (<1 hr.) and have class each day of the week. Even in college, math classes seldom last more than 1 hour.

    Agreed. It never worked out for the kids the way it was intended. Lot of the teachers had been teaching in the lecture-test system for so long that they had lost the desire and ability to interact with the kids meaningfully. It ended up the way we parents thought it would: lots of sleepy kids in class. :-)

    • #12
    • October 24, 2018, at 8:11 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    One of the things about writing is that all you have to know is how to spell a word correctly and what it means, and you come off as knowledgeable. In podcasting, you don’t have to know how to spell, but you need to know the pronunciation, or people start wondering if you might be a bit daft. (Hint to podcasters: dictionaries have pronunciation keys.)

    No, I’m sure this comment has nothing to do with five recent incidents where I wound up asking myself, “Did he really pronounce it that way? Could I be wrong? Let’s check the dictionary…”


    This conversation is an entry in our Group Writing Series within October’s theme of Zeal. If you’re filled with a fire to write on something related to zeal, you still can, of course. Just head on over and sign up. All the slots are filled, but we can certainly double up.

    If you would prefer a day when the spotlight would be only on you, @kentforrester, our November theme will be Elimination, and there are plenty of open days on our schedule and sign-up sheet that you can claim. Group Writing schedules are like churches. It’s easy to find an empty slot in one of the the front rows.

    • #13
    • October 24, 2018, at 9:00 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. MarciN Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    It’s easy to find an empty slot in one of the the front rows.

    Love this. So true. :-)

    • #14
    • October 24, 2018, at 9:35 AM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Vectorman Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Group Writing and Quote of the Day schedules are like churches. It’s easy to find an empty slot in one of the front rows.

    FIFY.

    • #15
    • October 24, 2018, at 9:42 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Henry Racette Contributor

    Arahant (View Comment):
    n podcasting, you don’t have to know how to spell, but you need to know the pronunciation, or people start wondering if you might be a bit daft.

    If you could launch a use-the-correct-objective-or-subjective-case-for-singular-first-person-pronouns movement, I’d appreciate that as well. It’s a quotidian podcast offense.

    • #16
    • October 24, 2018, at 12:20 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    n podcasting, you don’t have to know how to spell, but you need to know the pronunciation, or people start wondering if you might be a bit daft.

    If you could launch a use-the-correct-objective-or-subjective-case-for-singular-first-person-pronouns movement, I’d appreciate that as well. It’s a quotidian podcast offense.

    Hear! Hear! It so hurts my ears–just between you and me.

    • #17
    • October 24, 2018, at 1:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. MarciN Member

    Susan Quinn: I feel blessed that I’m a decent writer and that many of you read and respond to what I write.

    And we are blessed that you write for us. :-)

    • #18
    • October 24, 2018, at 2:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. MarciN Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I feel blessed that I’m a decent writer and that many of you read and respond to what I write.

    I had a funny conversation with a couple of my daughter’s friends. I said that the use of the plural “they” with the antecedent “everyone” was driving me nuts. The kids said, “But it is plural.” I said, “Not exactly. You would never say, ‘everyone are coming to the party,’ right?” You’re right, they said. Yep. :-) That said, much to my surprise, Webster’s accepts it (the entry under “everyone” cross-references the usage note below for “everybody”):

    The indefinite pronouns everybody and everyone share with other indefinite pronouns the characteristic of taking a singular verb and, more often than not, a plural pronoun in reference. The use of a plural pronoun—theytheir, or them—has traditionally been disapproved by those who insist that agreement in number is more important than avoidance of gender-specific third-person singular pronouns. But the use of the plural pronoun has long been established. < … but God send every one their heart’s desire! — Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, 1599> < … everybody endeavouring to excuse themselves … — Samuel Pepys, diary, 20 Mar. 1668> < … everybody should marry as soon as they can do it to advantage. — Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814> <Everybody ought to do what they can … — Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, 1913> The context of the Jane Austen quotation shows why there has been less resistance to the plural pronoun with everybody than with the other indefinite pronouns: the meaning is so clearly plural that a singular pronoun can seem silly. For instance, an unthinking copy editor changed Margaret Mitchell’s they in this sentence from Gone With the Wind (1936): “Everyone was very polite and kind to her because he felt sorry for her. … ” He simply sounds out of place in this context. Various kinds of mixed usage have continued to occur. < … everyone allegedly being entitled to his ignorance. — John Simon, Paradigms Lost, 1980> < … everybody was too busy microwaving their dinners and cackling over The Brady Bunch … — Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, January 1996> <Teachers leave because, in this country, the entire profession is underappreciated and misunderstood by everyone who has not done their time in the classroom. — Barbara Kantrowitz, Newsweek, 4 June 2001> < … Crane was told that John Abizaid, the new commander, was handing the report to everyone he met and telling them to read it. — Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco, 2006> < … the joke may be on us—not just on the rich, but on everybody who’s clawed his way and his kid’s way into big-brand colleges. — Michael Wolff, New York Times Book Review, 17 Sept. 2006> <The book opens, like classic Russian fiction, with a daunting two pages of interchangeable-looking names. But everybody is there for a reason and everybody gets their say. — The Economist, 21 Aug. 2010>

    • #19
    • October 24, 2018, at 2:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I feel blessed that I’m a decent writer and that many of you read and respond to what I write.

    I had a funny conversation with a couple of my daughter’s friends. I said that the use of the plural “they” with the antecedent “everyone” was driving me nuts. The kids said, “But it is plural.” I said, “Not exactly. You would never say, ‘everyone are coming to the party,’ right?” You’re right, they said. Yep. :-) That said, much to my surprise, Webster’s accepts it (the entry under “everyone” cross-references the usage note below for “everybody”):

    The indefinite pronouns everybody and everyone share with other indefinite pronouns the characteristic of taking a singular verb and, more often than not, a plural pronoun in reference. The use of a plural pronoun—they, their, or them—has traditionally been disapproved by those who insist that agreement in number is more important than avoidance of gender-specific third-person singular pronouns. But the use of the plural pronoun has long been established. < … but God send every one their heart’s desire! — Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, 1599> < … everybody endeavouring to excuse themselves … — Samuel Pepys, diary, 20 Mar. 1668> < … everybody should marry as soon as they can do it to advantage. — Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814> <Everybody ought to do what they can … — Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, 1913> The context of the Jane Austen quotation shows why there has been less resistance to the plural pronoun with everybody than with the other indefinite pronouns: the meaning is so clearly plural that a singular pronoun can seem silly. For instance, an unthinking copy editor changed Margaret Mitchell’s they in this sentence from Gone With the Wind (1936): “Everyone was very polite and kind to her because he felt sorry for her. … ” He simply sounds out of place in this context. Various kinds of mixed usage have continued to occur. < … everyone allegedly being entitled to his ignorance. — John Simon, Paradigms Lost, 1980> < … everybody was too busy microwaving their dinners and cackling over The Brady Bunch … — Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, January 1996> <Teachers leave because, in this country, the entire profession is underappreciated and misunderstood by everyone who has not done their time in the classroom. — Barbara Kantrowitz, Newsweek, 4 June 2001> < … Crane was told that John Abizaid, the new commander, was handing the report to everyone he met and telling them to read it. — Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco, 2006> < … the joke may be on us—not just on the rich, but on everybody who’s clawed his way and his kid’s way into big-brand colleges. — Michael Wolff, New York Times Book Review, 17 Sept. 2006> <The book opens, like classic Russian fiction, with a daunting two pages of interchangeable-looking names. But everybody is there for a reason and everybody gets their say. — The Economist, 21 Aug. 2010>

     

    Boo! Boo! I will still write his or her!

    • #20
    • October 24, 2018, at 3:21 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. She Thatcher
    She

    Great post. Please can we hear more about Whiskers the cat?

    • #21
    • October 25, 2018, at 12:30 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    She (View Comment):

    Great post. Please can we hear more about Whiskers the cat?

    Thank you. And of course. Whiskers was a black and white cat, indoors and outdoors, who had the longest whiskers ever! He was one of a number of cats we had. My favorite was another black and white cat, George. He would play with my folks’ dog, Munchkin (Munch for short), a mutt, and they loved each other. The front part of our house was made so you could walk around it in a circle. George loved to tease Munch and she would run after him. Unfortunately she had trouble getting traction on the tiled floor and inevitably would crash into the front door, while George stood grinning (I swear he did) nearby.

    But Whiskers was the sweetie of the family.

    • #22
    • October 25, 2018, at 3:57 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Mark Camp Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    “How do I know what I think, until I read what I write?”

    What would be the citation for that quote, if a friend should ever need it? I’m asking for a friend. Or was it original?

    • #23
    • October 25, 2018, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I should add, if it’s not too late, how all of you relate to the art of writing. Is it easy for you, hard for you, does it help you clarify your life?

    • #24
    • October 25, 2018, at 7:44 AM PST
    • Like
  25. Dave Overson Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I should add, if it’s not too late, how all of you relate to the art of writing. Is it easy for you, hard for you, does it help you clarify your life?

    Clarifying my life is a bit deep for me! I would think it’s deep for everyone unless they are indeed a professional writer, a la Stephen King, or someone like that who eats, sleeps and breaths in writing mode. As a new writer myself, I have found it self rewarding, in a sense. Sort of proving to myself, despite being a high school drop out, that I am indeed intelligent enough to pull off half decent writing from time to time.

    In addition, I was born with the gift of gab, as they say, so this is just an extension of my blabberings.

    • #25
    • October 25, 2018, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Dave Overson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I should add, if it’s not too late, how all of you relate to the art of writing. Is it easy for you, hard for you, does it help you clarify your life?

    Clarifying my life is a bit deep for me! I would think it’s deep for everyone unless they are indeed a professional writer, a la Stephen King, or someone like that who eats, sleeps and breaths in writing mode. As a new writer myself, I have found it self rewarding, in a sense. Sort of proving to myself, despite being a high school drop out, that I am indeed intelligent enough to pull off half decent writing from time to time.

    In addition, I was born with the gift of gab, as they say, so this is just an extension of my blabberings.

    And a skilled and honorable extension at that, @daveoverson! I see you’re new to Ricochet–welcome!! I will look for more expressions of your extensions! (Did I really say that?) Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing.

    • #26
    • October 25, 2018, at 8:49 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. danok1 Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I should add, if it’s not too late, how all of you relate to the art of writing. Is it easy for you, hard for you, does it help you clarify your life?

    I find writing is easy for me, if I know what I want to say. The act of writing actually helps me figure that out. I’ll find that I’ve glossed over some facts, etc., in my thinking; trying to put that on paper highlights when I’ve done that.

    • #27
    • October 25, 2018, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 1 like