Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Writer by Bryan Coleman

I moved at a steady pace through the large bulky back room that housed the printing press. A single light hung over this gigantic apparatus, now silent. I made my way through the double doors into the paste room....

I had just started at the local newspaper a few weeks before. I settled into a routine that consisted of shuffling through the early part of the day, going home for supper then hitting the road on game nights before drifting back to the office to write.

I was (and still am to a degree) very discreet about writing, well . . . as much as I can be. Sitting down for those few moments, staring at the blank screen, I prayed earnestly for the words to come while the IBM 8086 computers hummed their evening vespers.

But then it happens . . . I start to write, mostly because I have to, but partly because I love a good story. I didn't learn anything earth shattering in those early days at the newspaper, nothing I could pass on to you. I liked writing but I loved telling a story. There was a sense of accomplishment in those early days when "just completing the work" was something I cherished. It reminded me of my high school days when I was a varsity basketball player. I hated practice but I loved the game. I loved the game enough that I tolerated practice. Now, later in life, I work at practice. I still don't like it but I've learned to tolerate and understand the process. So it is with writing. I tolerate writing because I love the story.

Recently I started to write again and began writing the bones down for "City of the Dead" (which isn't about zombies). As the process would have it, I ran into some old, run-of-the-mill writers block. I found myself sitting in front of the computer, just like in the early days, waiting . . .

So I decided to changed things up a bit. I balked the computer for a yellow note pad. I drew out the story much like I was writing a letter--some parts love, some parts bitter. I'm not innovative, just following the orders of an old drill instructor, "improvise, adapt, overcome." I'm still working on the last part.

Countless stories were started on my old Dell and countless died there. I decided to smooth the edges on my weakness and try a different approach. I finished "City of the Dead" in a little over 3 months. It now sits on my top shelf . . . cooking.

So there it is . . .

In the beginning the newspaper demanded that I follow through, and I did. Now, at 45 years old, there is no editor, no deadline. I have to look at the paper and write. Inspiration has played a part and yet I am still learning to do the hard things. Reading good books and writing down things I care about has made the hard things doable.

I promised myself when I was in my twenties whatever I did with my writing would be done with a degree of honesty (to the best of my ability, of course) so as not to betray myself or my reader. I believed, and still do, that honesty in writing is what makes it believable. I know, yea, that's nothing new but I heard it somewhere and believed it like the gospel.

I hope that you find out what makes your writing work, what makes it honest, what makes it believable.

Bryan Coleman is a former newspaper journalist turned novelist. He writes full time and is a regular contributor/photographer to CSN, Christian Star News.


  1. Great post, Bryan. Good luck with City of The DEad.

  2. I'm still trying to figure out what works for me. Interesting post, Bryan.

  3. Good, thoughtful post and good writing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. You have a wonderful way with words. I enjoyed your post - thanks for sharing!


  5. All your comments are humbling, to say the least.