Everyone Can Be a Writer

by Jerod Santek, Artistic Director, Write On, Door County

During the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of working with the immensely talented Molly Rhode of Northern Sky Theater in school programs throughout the county. We are encouraging students in all grades to write and share stories that relate somehow to nature. We’ve worked with kids who are avid writers and those who would rather eat all their vegetables than be forced to write. Yet all of them have produced wonderful, interesting stories during the time we’ve spent with them.

During that time, not one looked at us and said, “But I’m not a writer.” Yet many times, in talking with adults about Write On’s programs and classes, I hear, “But I’m not a writer.” Sometime between high school and adulthood, people have gotten the impression that if they didn’t earn a degree in English, they couldn’t be a writer. I hear it in people’s voices – the way they say “writer” as if it had a capital “W.” 

Being a writer is not like being a doctor or a lawyer or a professional athlete. I can’t one day decide that I want to walk into a hospital and perform surgery or be a running back for the Packers. Writing can be a career (a very difficult and challenging one), or it can be an avocation. As a writer, I can’t practice medicine on the side as a hobby, yet any health professional can write or tell a story about what she or he has encountered during the day’s work. 

Telling stories is how we come to understand one another. Telling stories is what helped an aircraft maintenance worker from Ventspils, Latvia, write a book and travel to the United States for a residency at Write On. And while he was here, he told stories. Stories that connected him with people who knew nothing of his country, people who knew nothing of refueling airplanes or of exploring the decaying army bases, radio towers, bunkers and other remnants of the former Soviet Union. 

His desire to communicate his passion for his work and his hobby is what led him to telling stories. We all have stories to tell, whether or not we think of ourselves as writers. Our workplaces provide rich resources for telling stories. We all share those tales at the dinner table with family or at the bar with friends. Telling stories is a form of being a writer. 

On March 14, Write On will present Tales of the Trade in collaboration with the Door County Brewing Co. Share your workplace stories with us! You don’t have to write them down (but it may help) – just share them with an audience of supportive listeners. You may be amazed at what you discover: that you are, in fact, a writer.

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