Sandy Giedeman spent much of her career focused on the words of others. For many years she was a magazine editor. “I loved the fast pace of the magazine world, the travel, the rolling deadlines, and the collaborative aspect of working with graphics and sales,” she says. “What I didn’t like were the long hours. That was tough with having a family. An opportunity arose to go into partnership with two other women and buy an existing independent bookstore in Laguna Beach, Calif. We worked hard at the store and had great fun organizing readings and community events. We closed in the wave of independent bookstore closings when the large chain stores opened all around us.”
After that, Sandy moved on to doing freelance technical writing for aircraft and software companies.
Writing for Yourself
“I decided to retire and thought it might be interesting to do some of my own writing, not the for-hire kind I had been doing, and I signed up for a creative writing class at UCLA,” she says. “I loved the class, and shortly after that had my first short story published in a Chicago literary journal.”
Since then, Sandy has filled her free time with creative writing, writing workshops and classes, and submitting to literary journals across the country. Many of her poems have been accepted for publication.
“The most wonderful thing about doing my own writing is the fabulous teachers I have had the time to study with – people like Denis Johnson (National Book Awards winner), Nick Flynn, Holly Prado, David St. John and others. I’ve attended the Squaw Valley Writers workshop, the Taos Summer workshop, the Tin House workshop in Portland, and a wonderful workshop in Paris where we read at Shakespeare & Company.”
“I write only poetry now, and the workshops keep me motivated,” Sandy explains. “I’m part of a small group of writers that meets once a month to share our work, critique and support one another. That is vitally important, along with taking classes, to keep me motivated.”
As with most successful writers, Sandy must set aside regular time to work on her craft. “I’ve discovered that my best work time is morning, and if I try to delay my writing until the afternoon, it doesn’t work as well. I like to listen to music playing when I write – jazz, classical, rock ‘n’ roll. I like to do what I call free-writing, with other writers or alone. We write for a set period of time, say 10 minutes, to a photo or a line from a poem, or some sort of written prompt. Lots of interesting things come out of the free-writing that I use later to polish and rewrite,” she says.
Getting published also takes discipline. “I’d say that submitting to various journals is the most time consuming and least fun part of writing, but I do it because it feels good to have work circulating out there.”
Her advice to others interested in pursuing their creative writing? She says, “There are some really great writing classes offered at local junior colleges, universities, privately and through the parks and recreations classes offered in some communities.”
The Power of Poetry – AARP.org
How to Write Your Life Story – AARP Medicare Supplement Blog
A Life Distilled Through Poetry – AARP.org