January is Share Your Writing Story Month at HowWiseThen
Tassie Hewitt and I met at a critique group. I hope my laughing at her writing has been part of her inspiration.
Tassie Types – The Story of My Writing Life
For most of my life I’ve been a closet writer, hiding my thoughts and feelings in private notebooks. My mother bought me my first diary when I was in elementary school, complete with a lock and tiny gold key. “Keep Out! Reading this may be dangerous to your health and mine, too,” I scrawled on the first page.
I graduated to journal writing in high school when a friend gave me a blank Nothing Book, my first of seven. My love for writing led me to my first journalism class my senior year where I wrote feature articles for the Three Penny Press, Bellaire High School’s newspaper. I basked in the glory of seeing my name in print and knew then I wanted to be a writer one day!
A college professor encouraged me to submit a humorous piece about struggling to do the Jane Fonda workout, which was the rage in the 80’s. I was thrilled when the TCU Skiff published it, with my photo and author bio. Maybe I could be a writer, one day! I was hooked. I loved the power my pen had to make people laugh.
First Paid Steps Into Publishing
I interned at the Dallas D Magazine,and wrote for Aura Magazine and the Houston Chronicle. I was also a contributing feature writer for Katy Magazine. I loved interviewing people and helping them share their stories, but I yearned to write fiction.
I took writing classes and joined the West Houston Writers Group, writing about what I knew best – growing up Greek, family, marriage, and motherhood. Inspired by the antics of my three children, I began writing about them, not even changing their names. The laughter of my critique group was my reward. I valued their support and feedback. I wanted to find a home for my stories because I didn’t feel like a writer if no one could read what I’d written.
I discovered the Listen to Your Mother Show, a series of live, on-stage readings across America. The Southeast Texas show was accepting submissions about motherhood for area auditions. On a whim and a prayer, I sent in my short story, First Dance,about a mother who drives her daughter and her date home with one eye on the road, and one eye on the backseat. I was invited to audition!
The judges laughed as hard as my writing group had and I was chosen to be in the show. Performing a story I’d written to an auditorium full of people, and hearing them laugh at all the right places was a dream come true. Their laughter was the affirmation I needed to fuel my desire to write another funny story, and another. I discovered the power of humor to connect the human spirit. We all want to laugh. We all want to believe we’re not in this crazy life alone.
Networking Pays Dividends
I joined the Houston Writers Guild and a small weekly critique group. These talented writers keep me motivated and accountable. They inspired me to attend HWG conferences with workshops on creativity, editing, publishing and branding, plus invaluable networking opportunities with other local writers.
When the Guild hosted a contest for a travel-themed anthology, Outside the Window-Tales of the World,I submitted two stories about family vacations. In Northern Heights,a woman faces her greatest fear when her daughters shame her into zip-lining. In Juan, Two, Three,a recently divorced mom takes her children to Mexico on a trip that almost ends in ruins, until she realizes the best revenge for a broken heart is living a good life. I was thrilled when the Writer’s Guild published both submissions and gave me Honorary Mention for each story.
Attending the Dayton, Ohio Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop was one of the best things I did for my writing career. As the authors, comediennes, and publishers shared their experiences, I knew, I want to be a humor writer! The high point that weekend was the book launch of Laugh Out Loud, 40 Women Humorists Celebrate the Then and Now, Before They Forget. I was thrilled to have my short story, Spin Cycle, included in the anthology. In it, a middle-aged woman teaches her first spinning class and discovers the best part about aging is not caring what anyone thinks, unless they think she’s old.
Successful Writers Invest in Themselves
For inspiration, I read Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, and David Sedaris who reveal personal moments with humor and heart. Like them, I write about the universal themes that connect us all. I’ve found almost everyone, no matter their age or gender, relates to a vacation gone wrong, demanding kids, a crazy pet or ex-husband. Each of my short stories is centered on a smart, brave main character who faces her fears, becomes stronger because of them, and inspires others along the way. She goes Plumb Crazy when she makes the mistake of leaving her handyman husband home alone with a honey-do list. She’s horrified to discover her nest might not be as empty as she thinks when something’s been gnawing on her bread in Of Mice and Women. She makes us laugh, cry and feel. Through her misadventures and middle-aged mishaps, she shows us we don’t have to be perfect to have a perfectly amazing life.
Advice for New and Discouraged Writers
Because writing can be lonely work, I take advantage of the motivating workshops and classes Houston offers. I surround myself with other writers through Houston Writers Guild, WriteSpace Writing Center and my writing critique group.
I also find it helpful to read what I want to write and write what I want to read. When there’s the dreaded writer’s block in the middle of the road, I detour around it, recognizing it could mean I’m still busy living the story I’m trying to tell. I change topics or locations to write. When the writing well runs dry I take a class, challenge myself with a new activity, or travel to get the keyboard clicking again. If my inbox is filled with more rejection than acceptance letters from publishers, I recover, resubmit, and reach out to my readers in other ways.
Follow Tassie @ Tassie Types
Tassie Types was born from my desire to expand my readership and send my creations into the world. The funniest thing happened to me the other day, I reveal to my readers. Let me tell you all about it.It’s a coming of middle-age blog about growing up and older. It’s about friendship, family, courage and love, and laughing without fear of the future.
I’ve found my writing voice and I’m not afraid to use it. I’m currently working on a collection of short stories inspired by my big, fat, Greek life, Greek Tragedies, and Other Funny Stories.
My stories are found in The Ocotillo Review,(Volumes 2.1 and 2.2), Laugh Out Loud, 40 Women Humorists Celebrate the Then and Now, Before They Forget, and Outside the Window-Tales of the World. Visit me at TassieTypes.com and follow me on Facebook and Instagram – @TassieTypes.
Writers Retreat Coming Up in April
Do you have your own story knocking to get out? Join us at the lovely Galveston Zion Retreat Center April 26 – 28, 2019. Get writing tips and time to write in a quite place a few minutes from the beach. Register soon as we can only accommodate 14 people. More information is available at Lutherhill Ministries.