After a three-year absence, I’m finally getting back to my website and this blog. My goal is to create a community where writers can share good work.
Writers are isolated.
Even in a crowded newsroom, we lose ourselves in our work, grappling with how to build scenes, use dialogue and find ways to lead readers seamlessly from the beginning, through the middle and to an ending that resonates with them.
When I was writing pieces for Reader’s Digest, I never met my editor. Everything was done over the phone, extremely short conversations about word count and deadlines. I couldn’t call him to talk about the story, kick around an opening or figure out why a transition from one section to the next fell flat.
Those who write books have it even worse. I talked with my editor when I received the contract, and then again about a month before the book was due. I truly was alone for a year. I wrote my first book in an office I rented for the project, talking only to the janitor who came by each evening to empty the trash basket, which too often contained drafts I’d printed, read and then tossed out in disgust. My second book was created at the dining room table where I talked only to my cat, Martha, who curled up on a small table I pulled up next to my chair.
My hope is that we can support each other here.
If you have something that you’ve created — a work of fiction, an essay or a feature story — send it my way. I will post it on here, and we can discuss it. I also have some ideas kicking around, maybe a writing contest, and I have some writer friends of mine that I want to introduce to you.
I’ll start it off by sharing a link to a recent piece I wrote about a 92-year-old woman, a retired assistant cook at a school. When I met her, she told me she had an unremarkable life. She was wrong. That’s the beauty of storytelling. We discover something beautiful and powerful in so-called average people.
I’m figuring out how to make links work here — hey, it has been three years. The best way to find the story, for now, is to Google Tom Hallman Jr and CJ.
The story ran Sunday, and on Monday I received this email from a fellow writer: Superbly written and filled with feeling. But what impresses me most is how you remain open and vulnerable in the middle of emotionally uncomfortable things. My impulse is to look away; to leave the room and wash the image out of my head. But you move toward it. And that makes all the difference.
So this is a good place to start.
I’d like to hear from young writers who struggle with emotional stories. And from veterans who can help those younger writers learn some techniques needed to get to the heart of a story.