Valentine's Day Message for Writers: Write What You Love (and Love What You Write)

As we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, talk of love abounds. But how does “love” pertain to what we as writers spend our time actually writing? When I set out to write and publish children’s books about a decade ago, I’d heard a million times, “Write what you love…” Guest column by Leigh Attaway Wilcox, writer, editor and mother based in North Texas. She is the author of All Better: A Touch-and-Heal Book (Piggy Toes Press, 2007, out of print), and the Assistant Editor of AutismSpot.com.
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As we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, talk of love abounds. But how does “love” pertain to what we as writers spend our time actually writing? When I set out to write and publish children’s books about a decade ago, I’d heard a million times, “Write what you love…” I was a young Literacy Specialist fresh out of college with great interest in reaching my young students struggling to learn to read and write. Plus, I had always had a weakness for quality picture books, so I started off on the right foot—writing what I loved. But, on my personal writing journey, my “love” took an unexpected turn.Not long after my children’s book, All Better: A Touch-and-Heal Book was published, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Leigh is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Beth won.)

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Guest column by Leigh Attaway Wilcox, writer, editor
and mother based in North Texas. She is the author of
All Better: A Touch-and-Heal Book (Piggy Toes Press, 2007,
out of print), and the Assistant Editor of AutismSpot.com
where she contributes posts on topics pertaining to raising
children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is
currently
marketing other picture book manuscripts.
See her website here.


So, while I had been writing away, subbing picture book manuscripts and building a clips file full of parenting-oriented pieces, my writing career took a 90° turn. Sure, I could have continued to write about nap time, meal time, bath time, bed time, and everything else that seems to frequent the covers of typical parenting magazines across the country—and I did to a certain degree—my heart wasn’t “in it” as much as it had been just a few short months before.

Clips formerly focused on simple “parenting” topics morphed into articles intended for caregivers of children with special needs. I went from writing about local, kid-friendly events to pouring out my heart and soul regarding how heart-wrenching and debilitating an ASD diagnosis can be for a family. While ASD diagnoses have literally exploded in the past two decades (think 1 in 70 boys is now diagnosed with ASD), to this day parents are still not given much information or hope when a diagnosis is delivered. Countless parents are pushed into a new, scary world feeling alone, depressed and confused about “what next?”

As I discovered this sad reality once I connected with other parents, and found (through research and networking) some tremendously useful information necessary to raising my son and supporting him in the right ways, a large portion of my writing took the shape of helping other families. Through my work, other parents might learn about helpful resources sooner and on occasion find an understanding soul experiencing a similar detour in life.

Over time I came to discover several magazines and websites sharing similar visions and missions, working to reach other families raising children with ASD, and I’ve steadily been building my writing career in a totally different direction than that which I had initially intended. While I still write children’s books, I also now work as Assistant Editor of AutismSpot.com where I write regularly on topics pertinent to families like mine; in this way I feel like I’m truly making a difference in my community. That, I must admit, I love! I’m also marketing a new non-fiction book for adults…can you guess the topic?

So, along your writing journey, when “love” takes unexpected turns, please be encouraged to allow your writing to shift as necessary. If you continue to write what you love—and love what you write—in my opinion you can’t go wrong. Happy Valentine’s Day, fellow writers; here’s to a life (and countless pages) filled with “love.”

Leigh is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Beth won.)

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