This weekend, for the first time ever, I participated in the Vulcan Run, a 10K race held annually in Birmingham that attracts about 1,000 runners each year.
I have never been more nervous for a race. I couldn’t really figure out why. I’ve run a half-marathon — twice — which is more than twice the number of miles of a 10K. I also trained for this race for a month. Yet, the morning of the Vulcan Run I was so nervous my stomach started to hurt.
I was convinced I’d be too slow to finish the race in the two-hour time limit or that my legs would just stop working around mile five.
Nevertheless, I laced up my Nikes and set off to pound the pavement. This race, like so many others, would not only teach me plenty about running but impart lessons about writing, too.
“Qualified.” Megan Beam is not a fan of this word, especially when it’s used to ask questions such as: “What qualifies me to write what I’m writing?” or “What qualifies you to tell anyone else how to write what they’re writing?” or “How does my work qualify for publishing?” When Beam started her Birmingham–based writing workshop series Vive Les Conteurs in January one of her goals was to strip this word of its value.
“I think that there is this sort of romance around creativity that you can’t really approach it unless you’ve been born with some sort of sparkle,” Beam says. “And I’m not saying that that doesn’t exist but I think that creativity in whatever form it is can save people’s lives and give them a reason to get up in the morning and make sense of the chaos.”
Beam says her primary goal with Vive Les Conteurs is simply to give people a safe space to write so they can finally feel like writers.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Beam for my latest column for B-Metro magazine. Read the complete story here.
I have a coffee mug that reads “Teacher by day, Blogger by night” and that’s a pretty accurate description of who I am and what I do. By day I teach English at a local school for kids gifted in the arts and sciences. By night I blog about writing, wellness, and women’s empowerment, I run See Jane Write, and I freelance for a number of local and national media outlets.
For years I worked to keep these two worlds of mine — writer and teacher — separate. I never talked about my blog at work and since I often shared my blog posts via social media, I never accepted Facebook friend requests from students and I kept my Twitter account locked so I could control who followed me. But then one day a student came up to my desk and said to me the words I never wanted to hear: “Mrs. Bowser, you know I read your blog.”
Like nearly every other black woman in the United States of America, I kicked off my weekend by going to see Girls Trip with one of my best friends. The movie follows four college BFFs as they reunite for a long overdue girls trip to New Orleans for ESSENCE Festival.
I have a confession: I started See Jane Write for selfish reasons.
In 2009 I left my job as a newspaper reporter in Louisville, Kentucky and returned to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama to teach English at a local high school for kids gifted in the fine arts and math and science. Though I was fond of my new colleagues I missed the group of female writers I was surrounded by in my newsroom.
I searched for a women’s writing group that would welcome poets, authors, journalists, and bloggers – all hats I’d worn at one point in my writing life – but I couldn’t find one. So I decided to start an organization of my own.