Becoming a Writer

Way back at the beginning, I was puzzled about how 15 writers and a nonprofit could publish a book. What would be the arrangement between the authors and the nonprofit? What about the understanding among the writers, some of whom had many entries, some of whom had few? How would we make this fair? The questions overwhelmed answers.

My former-lawyer self said, we need to work this out before we move forward. We need to know what the deal is. We need to be able to describe it and have everyone buy into it. We need to know on the front end what we are getting into.

I tried that for a while. Then, in November of 2012, I realized that the process of figuring it all out would, ultimately, smother the book. If we defined our relationships first, we would never get past the deal-making to the creating of a book. We needed a book first, then we would figure it out.

This concept was a**-backwards, to a lawyer.

I asked the group, are we ready to get started? They said yes. Are we willing, I asked, to move forward trusting that we can work out the details later? They agreed. So we set the Book Retreat and began putting our book together.

This is the moment I quit being a lawyer.

I’d already given up my power suits. I’d told nonprofit boards that I would no longer offer legal advice. I’d even relinquished my law license. But that month, when we put art first, I became a former-lawyer. I became a writer.

here’s to creative synthesis . . . .

"Writing Our Way Home: A Group Journey Out of Homelessness", former lawyer, homeless, homeless writing, homeless writing group, homelessness, the homeless, Writing, writing group

Comments (4)

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      Thank you, Emma. I like the idea of the “always writer.” And thank you for your excitement over the book – the publisher is working on the manuscript right now!

  • Whatever it is you do or did do for a living, you’re a writer. Thanks to a lot of courage and a leap of faith, so are those 15 other people. I can’t think of a much better discovery for you or the rest of the group: an identity.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      I did think it was funny, Marisa – everybody talks about the writers acquiring their “writing” identity but I did too!

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