Find Your Weirdness

By Julie Luek

Julie Luek1I’m almost fifty. There it is in black and white, a milestone in my life. My kids, 23 and 18, are flying the coop this year, out into the world to pursue their passions. My daughter, bless her heart, has inherited my creative passions and will pursue her love of music. She’s not choosing an easy road, nor one that will automatically lead to a steady job and income. I won’t discourage her though. I remember being her age, wanting to pursue English as a major, and my engineer father strongly suggesting (with his financial support) I pursue something more “sensible”. It turns out there’s nothing practical in studying a subject you have no love for.

Life ended up all right though. I got the MA that helped me land a satisfying job in higher education. I found it challenging and fulfilling for over 20 years until the day, three years ago, when I didn’t. At some point you realize you can’t fight your passion and no longer want to. Time is short. Three years ago I did the unpractical and walked away from a good career to pursue this writing gig.

I’m glad to say I haven’t looked back. It hasn’t been easy, and although I’ve had small successes, it’s not like the world of publishing has opened its arms to me in a warm and grateful embrace. Publishing is a fickle lover. Like most of you, I have to work hard and snuggle up to a lot of rejection to get my writing out there.

Luek_pathposteraAlong the way, I’ve also had to define who I am as a writer and what I want to write. It’s been a journey of self-discovery. I began by trying to write short stories. Baby steps, like little stories to prompts on Writer’s Digest. I entered a few contests and, eventually, even wrote a full-length, fiction manuscript. (It was pretty awful, by the way.) I also read a lot… a lot… of books, on story development, plot development, saving cats, the writing life, and how to put fire in my fiction. The more I read, the more I wrote (some really bad stuff), the more I realized I didn’t want to write fiction. But writers write novels. We all know that.

It took me three years to get it through in my thick head and probably thicker ego, that my first love is reading nonfiction and it follows, my true passion is writing nonfiction. It’s satisfying for me to see my articles in magazines, my essays on international writing sites like She Writes, and even an essay in Chicken Soup for The Soul. It’s like coming home.

The other day I read this quote by Annie Dillard:

Read for pleasure. If you like Tolstoy, read Tolstoy; if you like Dostoevsky, read Dostoevsky. Push it a little, but don’t read something totally alien to your nature and then say, “I’ll never be able to write like that.” Of course you won’t. Read books you’d like to write. If you want to write literature, read literature. Write books you’d like to read. Follow your own weirdness.

This is why I made the decision to try other supportive organizations for nonfiction, outside of RMFW. (Although thank goodness the friends I made here haven’t abandoned me!) It’s why I play around with writing styles and topics on my blog Julie Luek, and it’s why I keep sending pithy little ditties off to the Chicken Soup folks. I’ve even finally worked up the courage to test the waters on a book idea again; this time, of course, a nonfiction manuscript.

Like Ms. Dillard says, I have to follow my own weirdness. What’s yours?

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Julie Luek is a writer, living in the mountains of Colorado, published in numerous regional and national magazines, Chicken Soup For The Soul, and a regular contributor to the sites She Writes and Joyful Home and Life. She authors two blogs, Julie Luek and A Thought Grows. As an observer and participator in her own life, she continually rediscovers her purpose, learns to let go and not take herself too seriously. Julie believes if we generously share our stories and hearts we can all learn, laugh, and grow together.

22 thoughts on “Find Your Weirdness

    1. Julie Luek

      I’m looking forward to the big 5-0… mostly. I like to read all kinds of books, but find I sniff out nonfiction the most.

      Reply
  1. Patricia Stoltey

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Julie. I’ve always had a hard time defining my goals and deciding what I really want to accomplish with this writing gig. I have eclectic tastes and interests, and sometimes that prevents me from focusing on just one thing. I was at a conference this weekend where one presenter told us we couldn’t go anywhere until we defined the result we wanted (fame, personal satisfaction, scads of money, etc.). I think you’ve figured that out and are on the right track. Well done!

    Reply
    1. Julie Luek

      Pat, you know funny thing, when I wrote this post I kept thinking, “great, now watch me decide to write fiction and come off like a total screwball”. But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time I acted conflicted. ;)

      I also find I like writing shorter pieces, which is making a book concept difficult for me. How DO you do it?!

      Reply
      1. Patricia Stoltey

        I find short stories really hard to write and can’t really explain it. My best word count for telling stories is around 70,000 words, but I think I could write novellas even easier. I don’t know why that is.

        Reply
  2. LDianeWolfe

    You should always follow your passions. I love writing fiction, but I enjoy non-fiction just as much and I write it better.

    Reply
  3. Vaughn Roycroft

    Good for you for finding your way to your passion, Julie! I definitely set out to write the books I want to read. Every time I try to do differently, I struggle. Well, I always struggle, but if it’s not something I’m passionate about, I struggle unnaturally… Does that make sense? I am writer, hear me ramble! ;-)

    Reply
    1. Julie Luek

      Thanks for stopping by Vaughn. I’m kind of glad to read you struggle with your writing– it comforts me. It’s like wrestling gators for me sometimes. So yes, not writing your passion makes that experience even more intense!

      Reply
  4. ML Swift

    Follow your heart, Julie. Or your weirdness, whatever the case may be. You took a great risk three years ago when you set out on this venture…you were finally able to head on the path to your dreams. Don’t stop now. You have my support, as well as so many others who wish for your success.

    Reply
  5. Julie Kazimer

    I love reading your stuff, especially you blog. It’s always so inspiring. Thank you for being weird. We appreciate it.

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth Seckman

    I am a bit of a book tramp. It would be easier to tell you what I don’t like to read than to tell you what I like. Best of luck with whatever you are moved to write.

    Reply
  7. Julia Munroe Martin

    You are a prolific writer, and so it doesn’t surprise me a bit that you are passionate about what you do — following my dream has done that for me, too. It’s SO critical, and I completely agree with this: “It turns out there’s nothing practical in studying a subject you have no love for.” Here’s to pursuing our weirdness :)

    Reply
  8. Rob Akers

    Julie,

    Someone told me once the hardest thing in life is to figure out which parade to march in. It might take you several years of parade marching to figure out which one is best suited for you. But once you do, it will be almost impossible to keep you from being the person out front leading the merry procession.

    I have do doubt about you and your journey to the lead spot in your parade.
    March On!

    Reply

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