Julie Checkoway

I believe that a writer’s duty as a writer is first to him- or herself.  That point in inarguable.  A writer has to make a hard-nosed commitment to writing, or the writing won’t happen at all.  A writer has to seek out time to write and then guard that time like a pit bull.  I got married a few years ago, and committing to writing feels like getting married.  Saying yes to the whole enterprise day after day takes a willing and stubborn soul.

But a writer’s first duty as a writer and as a human being, I have also come to believe, is to nurture other writers.  A writer must be midwife at the births of other writers’ voices.  A writer must share the wisdom she or he has learned in her writer’s solitude and give that wisdom away, with kindness and generosity and gentleness.
It is, I am certain, the giving of an heirloom, an absolutely necessary behest.”
– Julie Checkoway

5 thoughts on “Julie Checkoway

  1. Michelle Post author

    Jo, she seems like an amazing woman.

    She also says this:

    “Everyone who is a writer is a writer in two families, the family into which she was born and the family of writers on the planet that spins beneath her.

    And the writer in the family of writers can choose, or not, to pass familial goodness on – the wisdom of work, the wisdom of books – with as much goodwill as she can muster.”

  2. dale

    Oh dear. A hard-nosed commitment? I hear talk like this and I’m always embarrassed. I’m such an amateur and a fair-weather writer: I just write because I love writing, because it eases my soul and tickles my fancy. If it was work, I’m sure I’d shirk it 🙂

  3. Julie Checkoway

    I don’t know how I came across this today, but somehow I did. I swear I wasn’t googling myself. I read it, and I thought: who WAS that woman who wrote those generous words? It was I, but I did not have two young children then, and I didn’t really know how hard life was going to be balancing my love of my new family and my love of writing. It’s hard. I was teaching full-time, running an MFA program, and also directing AWP, a writers’ organization back then. I felt invincible; as though I had an infinite capacity to give of myself. I was 33 years old. I’m not saying that giving to other writers isn’t what I still believe in. I’m 50 now, and one of my greatest pleasures is to talk with other writers who are at work on projects that excite me and to talk those writers back in to feeling passionate about what they’re doing. I’ve realized how solitary writing can be; and I am so grateful for those moments when other writers have lunch, coffee, a chat, and I, too, walk away thinking, “okay, yeah, maybe I CAN do it.” I have a husband changing jobs; two girls—a teenager (sophomore in high school) who needs to talk a LOT; and a 9 year old with boundless energy and who talks ALL the time. And I have a book under contract due in a year, and this year seems as though it’s going to be impossible to be as generous with others and myself as I (ideally) am in that article I wrote. We’re moving; my teenager just got dumped by a boyfriend; and my 9 year-old still wants me to swing her on the swing sometimes and cuddle every single morning. All I can do is the best I can do. I’m no saint. And you don’t have to be, either. This is a VERY human endeavor. Be good to yourselves. Warmly, Julie Checkoway

  4. peony moon Post author

    Dear Julie,

    How lovely to read your message this morning. Thank you for taking the time to write.

    It’s a juggling act much of the time, isn’t it? Finding space and quiet and time for oneself, time to daydream and read and write, time to nurture other writers in whatever ways one can at different times in one’s life.

    They are generous words and no matter the (wonderful) changes in your life – and the time constraints – they remain inspiring. Thank you.

    Very best,

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