"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

Learning to be a writer

By on November 24, 2019 in Arts with 0 Comments
Lorna Rose-Hahn, who’s accustomed to adroitly juggling child raising with her blooming writing career, looks like she’s found a moment of serenity here.

It means, well, writing, writing and sometimes taking ‘no’ as an answer

By Susan Lagsdin

Lorna Rose-Hahn, Wenatchee writer, frames a publisher’s turn-down in the most positive of terms: “Handling rejection, getting familiar with it and making it work for you, takes some maturity and experience,” she said. “You have to be able to harness a certain energy from it to better your craft.”

Her maturity (she’s 42) is a given; her experience has yielded her, in addition to exposure in many blogs and literary journals, recent recognition in two prestigious competitions. She was a 2017 finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association memoir competition and won a fall 2019 Honorable Mention from the Oregon Poets Association.

Unlike some writers who may labor for years before making their first foray into the world of rejection — and yes — acceptance, Lorna hit the ground running when she decided just five years ago that if she was going to call herself a writer, she would have to get published.

That meant learning industry trends and standards, creating the necessary on-line platform on Facebook, Twitter and her website (writing as her pre-married name Lorna Rose) and submitting dozens of manuscripts in as many formats to even more small publications and contests.

It meant joining Write On The River, for which she now serves as chair, and meeting with other regional writers for critique, instruction and inspiration. Her first writers’ group was extremely valuable, she said, and she continues to find new insights with seasonal workshops. 

And it meant writing, writing, writing, through childrearing traumas and tricky schedules, finishing up a breastfeeding session or a bedtime story with her two children to immediately sit at the computer, sans muse (“I really don’t have one” she asserted). She often had to forgo that timeless period “in the zone” that artists treasure.

Tightly scheduled writing time with a finite end — two or three hours if possible — works best for her; she knows too much leisure would be counter-productive. 

Lorna said, “Creative flow takes time. Sometimes I just have to get right to it.” She said she has such a loud and active mind that as soon as she sits down to type, she’s ready to go.

A glance at some publications shows diverse topics: her father’s long-sought pride in her, reasons to not post photos of your kids, a drug-laced teenage rave, using a clothesline, a too-ambitious hike (“I sweat-slogged up Camelback Mountain, taking big strides… panting, mouth dry, dry stones crunching beneath my feet…”), a necklace purchased on her Mexican honeymoon. Personal, detailed narrative nonfiction comes most easily to her, so her whole life fuels her writing.

Lorna’s making up for lost time. 

Grade school creative writing awards were nice enough, but she had no interest in a writing career in her formative adult years. She worked in the world of commerce, doing sales support and program planning for FedEx, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Amgen throughout the West, and only when she and her husband moved to Wenatchee to start their family did she consider going back to the art she loved as a child.

What initially shaped and motivated her writing was a strong desire to look inward, to free herself from unresolved childhood pressures and to share her life as a new mother. 

She wrote early on for Wenatchee Mom Blog, airing her own fears and flaws, thinking, she said simply, ”I can’t be the only one.” Her book-length memoir, after her conscientious beta readers prompted a new draft, is now in the hands of agents.

Lorna has been called fearless by her writing friends — but she doesn’t know if that refers to her unconcern with publishers’ rejections or her willingness to be vulnerable on the page. Maybe both. 

She said, “The business world helped me approach writing in a pragmatic way. I finish projects that I start, and I’ve been told there’s a certain frankness to my writing.”

That “certain frankness” brings Lorna’s writing alive on the page, and it’s gradually coming alive on more and more pages. 

That’s good progress for a woman who was almost 40 when she realized her voice could move and shake readers, and when she finally said, “I am a writer.” 

For links to Lorna Rose-Hahn’s writing, visit: www.lornarose.com.

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