I asked Chanta Combs to share a bit about her experience with Around the Writer’s Table these last few months. In this week’s blog, she reflects on her internship with us and why it became so much more than a straightforward professional and educational experience for her. Her personal discussion about her relationship with writing will likely resonate with many of you.
Gina Hogan Edwards
My writing has become my guide on
this scary, exhilarating, and comforting journey of self-exploration.
Wow. My first semester as an intern with Around the Writer’s Table (AWT) is already over. Where did the time go?
Listening to My Inner Disquiet
I began the semester with nothing more than a compelling desire to write and a nagging curiosity to learn about the industries that foster the written word. I have always loved to read, research, and write but have spent my career (to date) monetizing these passions through conventional work as a lawyer, lobbyist, and policy advisor. While I have loved this work and have explored marvelous, unforeseen professional horizons, I am voracious for more.
My time with AWT has taught me invaluable lessons about the creative process, self-employment as a freelance editor, and my ability—and, more importantly, desire—to write.
Writing is the Teacher
My first assignment was to write these bi-monthly blogs. Because my writing has historically been analytical advocacy, plumbing the depths of the creative process seemed very foreign to me. As such, AWT spent a lot of time teaching me the dynamics that authors encounter throughout this journey.
And as I turned my understanding into writing, I not only learned about the art of writing but also about overcoming my own mental obstacles as I explore writing through a new lens. Simply put, the tools required to write authentically are the same tools required to live authentically—regardless of your vocation. Get silent, go deep, have mentors, and follow your intuition. “Just do it,” but be open to constructive feedback as you do. And as you speak your truth, embrace your personal evolution, understand that others may not, and trust the journey.
While writing the blogs satiated my basic need to write in a new way about new subjects, I was—unbeknownst to me—also internalizing these lessons. By early December, my mind was a muddled mess as I tried to apply these lessons to my current profession, my role as the mother of a young child, and my desire to reinvent my career. So, I spent four days alone at the beach—the place where my heart rate slows down, my mind calms, and clarity ensues.
This is when I was able to accept the fact (which apparently has been quite obvious to others for a while) that I am ready to embrace writing, editing, and publishing as a new facet of my career. I’m nervous—this is unexplored territory for me, and I feel wholly unprepared. But I am following my intuition by taking more courses at Florida State next semester, signing up for a journaling class at the end of the year, and committing to attend AWT’s Story Camp writer’s retreat to jump-start the new year.
Exploring New Dimensions
In addition to writing (and learning from) these blogs, I was able to ghost-write some material for AWT. Ghostwriting taught me another dimension about myself as a writer. First, it requires less personal vulnerability. Second, it requires a really intimate understanding not only of your readers (as all writing does) but also of the person for whom you are writing. I enjoyed stepping into her shoes and embracing her unique perspective of the content. This experience underscored the fact that I love to write for writing’s sake and don’t necessarily need public recognition to enjoy it. This appreciation has opened a whole new frontier for me, and I have already made inquiries about enrolling in a ghostwriting certification program at University of California at Long Beach.
Taking the Next Step
Needless to say, my internship with AWT surpassed my originally meager expectations. I thought I would get to write some, edit a little, and be on my merry way. I got so much more than that.
I found new layers of my soul, re-evaluated my life’s goals, enhanced some of my existing capabilities, and found new ones. Because I am eager to learn more, I will enroll for another internship with AWT in the spring semester. I am very excited, optimistic, and thankful for the journey that AWT and FSU have started with me.