You don’t need to be an experienced, published writer to be an ambassador of the written word. You can be one, even if you’re a beginning writer. Ambassadorship takes many forms.
I write non-fiction and poetry. Since April is Poetry Month, I’ve been thinking about poetry activities. In so doing, I’ve begun to reflect on all my writing activities in the past 31 years of doing it professionally. I realize I’ve been an ambassador at each juncture in my adult life.
If you’re a beginning writer, you probably don’t realize you’ve been an ambassador, too. Have you ever helped a writer’s group organize a conference? Have you hosted a writer’s critique group in your home?
You may not realize that you, too, can share your knowledge as a beginner.
Do you belong to a service organization or business group? Realize that you can give a short presentation sharing writing tips before a group. You’d be amazed at how many people are insecure about their writing, and even find it painful to write a sentence at their jobs.
Or, perhaps there are others who aspire to get just one piece published, and you’ve already done that. They might get some ideas from you.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been published or published a little, you may know more about writing than many do, and be one step or more ahead of them.
In my years as a writer, I have regularly
spoken about or given workshops on non-fiction, creative writing, and authorship.
I’ve also been on university faculties, teaching writing to undergraduate and graduate students. But, even when I’m not a faculty member, I’m busy promoting the written word.
For example, this month, I’m participating in a poetry project, introducing poetry to professional actors so they can perform it. And, in conjunction with the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, I judged a haiku contest for Chicago Public School students earlier this month.
A few months ago, I gave a haiku workshop to Chicago Public School teachers, grades 3-12, so they could learn to teach it to their students.
For me, May will also be poetry month. I have three major poetry events. I have organized Haikufest, Saturday, May 7, at the Evanston (IL) Public Library in Metro Chicago. In addition to other speakers, I will speak on “Haiku: A Path Leading To Conservation Thought.” There will be hands-on workshops, a Japanese art exhibit, haiga, that features haiku, and a haiku contest. This event is in conjunction with my duties as Midwest Regional Coordinator of the Haiku Society of America. I organize about five programs a year that are free and open to the public. I am an honorary, elected officer of the Society.
I will also be giving haiku workshops, Saturday, May 15, at Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s Annual Book Club Conference in the Chicago Public Schools. Students, grades 7-12, will attend. Further, I’ll be speaking on haiku Saturday, May 21, at the Milwaukee (WI) Public Library.
Through the years, I’ve authored four non-fiction books: “You Can Be A Columnist,” “Beginners’ Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features,” “Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes,” and “Your Original Personal Ad.” I’ve taught journalism to undergraduate and graduate students on the faculties of universities, and have been a writer-in-residence.
However, perhaps my real activities of ambassadorship have been when I’ve taught workshops that people didn’t have to take for school credit.
There’s a particular satisfaction that a writer receives when her audience is comprised of people who choose to learn about writing for non-credit purposes. I’ve taught feature and column writing workshops at libraries and through Continuing Education Departments at community colleges. I’ve also taught them at writer’s conferences, along with being a panelist or speaker on non-fiction. I’ve addressed associations on authorship; alumni and business groups on how to do publicity writing; spoken on creativity at Lunch and Learn series, sponsored by community colleges; and given personal ad writing workshops at bookstores, libraries, and community colleges where I’ve signed books.
I’ve also promoted the written word when I’ve been invited to exhibit my poetry at banks, retail stores, supermarkets, art galleries, wine shops, university and public libraries, and on public transit. I’ve done poetry readings at bookstores, libraries, and art galleries, and on radio. I’ve exhibited my books at cultural centers.
I’ve been interviewed by print and broadcast media about my books, and I’ve given informational interviews on the craft of writing on cable television.
Further, I hosted my own radio poetry program, “Poetry Beat” for two years on public broadcasting, interviewing poets.
As a book publisher and marketer of books, I’ve, of course, promoted many authors, spreading the written word.
As for you, be a doer! You’ll advance your knowledge of writing without even realizing it. Even if you’re a beginning writer and volunteer to register attendees at a writer’s conference, you’ll be around writers. It’s amazing what you’ll pick up. Perhaps you’ll learn of publishing opportunities. So, just be an ambassador in the simplest of ways.
And, remember, if you’re around writers, you’ll begin to think like a writer through osmosis.
Take in all the opportunities around you. Besides being an ambassador, go to poetry readings, author’s talks at bookstores, and free writer’s workshops at libraries. You have nothing to lose. You’ll always come away with nuggets of information.