# 1

My journey as a writer began in 5th grade with an accusation of plagiarism 

     Write about something you love; that was my 5th grade assignment. So I sat down with my notepad and visualized the creek in my backyard. The images came easily to me. My mind roamed along the banks, and then, as if by magic, a secret door opened up inside me and words came spilling out. My teacher later kept me after school and asked where I'd copied my description from. No one knew that I struggled with dyslexia, and the question was confusing to me. How could I copy something out of a book when I couldn't read?​ 

# 2

Since then

My short fiction has appeared in The Sun Magazine, The Southern Review, Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. I was the 2009 winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction and I've written extensively on the link between language and art including for The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and in a monthly series for Ploughshares Magazine.

A finalist for the Massachusettes Book Award, my debut novel, All We Had, was published by Scribner - Simon & Schuster. Now a major motion picture, produced by Tribeca Films, All We Had, was optioned by actress Katie Holmes before the book was published. 

"Smart and unflinchingly honest and brilliantly voiced, All We Had is a remarkably accomplished and compelling first novel.  Annie Weatherwax’s other artistic persona as a visual artist has made her an instant expert at one of the most challenging but fundamental skills of a fiction writer: the ability to render the moment to moment sensual thereness of a scene. I can’t wait to see what she writes next."  

                                                                                      ~ Pulitzer Prize Winner Robert Olen Butler ~

I've received fellowships from Yaddo, Summer Literary Festivals, and In 2010, my collection of short fiction was a finalist for The Doris Bakwin Award; The Hudson Prize; and the St. Lawrence Book Award. 

# 3

What I've learned

 

The insistence that childhood education use reading skills as a measurement of intelligence, convinced me that I could never be a writer. 

 

A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, for many years I earned a living sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for Nickelodeon, DC Comics, Warner Brothers and Pixar. I once flew out to George Lucas’s ranch in California with a sculpture of Jar Jar Binks and for years I worked with the creator of Miss Piggy at Children’s Television Workshop. 

There are many ways to be smart and you don't have to be a reader in order to be a writer. What  I discovered is that the years I spent sculpting gave me a template for building anything. Specifically, adding and subtracting and carving away bits of clay proved to be exceptional training for the work of writing. In many ways the process of finding a character in a hunk of clay is the same as finding a story on a blank page. You must work a piece from all angles, and recognize the dangers of focusing too quickly on details when the structure and form have not yet been fully established. Life as a sculptor taught me how be alone and how to maintain focus. I learned to be patient, persistent and disciplined and to sometimes let a character emerge on its own.  

Writing is many things. It is a mining and sifting through of the raw material of life until something of substance emerges—a story line or character worth pursuing. But the true job of a writer is to elicit an image—a rich and expansive picture of the world written on the page. In many ways, writing is a visual art because we see not only with our eyes, but also, and sometimes more powerfully, with our imaginations. The craft of writing for me has less to do with the study of literature, or even with writing proficiency, and much more to do with the disciplined skill of seeing; a skill I have been honing as a visual artist all my life. 

copyright annie weatherwax 2020

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