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Monday, September 17, 2018

Three Great Things About Being a Writer by Diane Byington - Guest Post & Giveaway

About Diane Byington

I wrote my first “book” in the fifth grade. It was an updating of Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations. Pip was now Smitty, and so forth. I received an “A” for the project, and that encouraged me to keep writing. When I was 13 I spent the summer writing a book about meeting my fantasy loves, the Beatles – which made me so embarrassed that it ended up in the trash. But I couldn’t stop writing. I was the editor of my high school literary magazine and won an award for one of my essays.

I tried to major in English as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, but reading Pilgrim’s Progress stopped me cold! I couldn’t make it through that classic, and decided to switch gears. I got my undergraduate degree in psychology, and eventually earned my M.S.W. and Ph.D. in social work at Florida State University. After working for a while in the health field, I decided to be a college professor so I could, among other benefits, have summers off to dedicate to writing. Eventually I moved to Colorado to teach at the University of Denver.

Those years resulted in numerous professional and academic articles that gained me tenure and some status in my field, but I also wanted to write fiction and essays. So, toward the end of my twenty years in academia, I published a short story, several essays, and even a poem.

After leaving academia and moving to Boulder I burst forth into a multiplicity of occupations. I taught yoga and chi kung classes, earned a certificate in chi kung healing and practiced energy healing, used my license in social work to start a private psychotherapy practice, and made a relaxation CD. These were fun, but not very lucrative, so I eventually ended up as a management consultant, working with 360 feedback. I like using my skills to help people succeed in their careers.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed an eclectic work history.

I enrolled in a two-year creative writing program through Stanford University and received my Certificate in Novel Writing. Since then, I’ve been writing full-time. 


Books by Diane Byington

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Three Great Things About Being a Writer
Guest post by Diane Byington

Publishing a novel has been taken up most of the space in my bucket list for years. In March, I achieved my dream. Who She Is is now a reality. More often than not, these days, I feel as though every cell in my body is smiling. Here are some things I love about my job.

1. Having a book to show people.

I get giddy just looking at the beautiful cover of my novel. Last weekend, Who She Is won a literary award, and it’s up for a couple more. I receive emails nearly every day from people who enjoyed the book. The fact that people appreciate my work means more to me than anything.

Years ago, I had a vision of telling a story about a girl who wants to run the Boston Marathon, but it’s 1968, before women were allowed to enter the race. When she’s training for the race, she starts having “spells” that suggest she had a different early life. She doesn’t know if the spells are true or if they are a product of her epileptic brain, but she’s determined to find out. Thus, the running story and the mystery take place simultaneously, and it literally took me years to figure out how to combine them.

During the years of working on the novel, people would ask me what I did. “I’m a writer,” I would say, trying to sound confident.

“Have you written anything I can read?” they would ask.

“Not yet,” I would answer. “But I’m working on it.”

They would turn their attention to someone else and I would feel like cringing under the table.

Now I can point to my book, and that makes my heart sing.

2. Being part of a community. 

Another great thing about being a writer is being involved in the community of readers and writers. I have a writing partner, a critique group, and numerous friends who are writers. We cheer each other on when we’re depressed (trust me, everyone gets depressed), and applaud our successes (and everyone has successes). I absolutely love reading the books written by my friends.

I also love supporting new writers as they go through the process of finding their footing. Learning how to appreciate being edited takes quite a while, but it’s worth doing. I love helping people see the gaps in their work and brainstorming with them about how to fix the problems. I especially love seeing their next drafts, which are invariably much, much better.

3. The writing itself. 

Okay. Complete honesty here. Writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done. I love thinking of new ideas for stories, and I love reading the finished products. But I usually do not love the writing itself. It’s grueling, tedious work. But sometimes… sometimes it’s magic. Here’s an example. The other day I had to write a scene in which a husband and wife communicate for the first time since she left him. She’s still angry and has no intention of returning home. He’s still hurt and resentful.

I sat down and started. “How are you?” she asks. Not great literature, but it primed the pump of the conversation. I wrote down his answer: he’s lonely, the bed is too big, the house is too quiet. And then he gets sarcastic. “And how are you?” he asks. She tells him she’s still furious.

As the conversation evolves, I discover, along with the two characters, why she’s so angry. This scene is sixty-some pages into the novel, and I thought I understood what was going on. But I didn’t. Her anger went much deeper than I’d realized, and it made perfect sense. He apologizes, but it isn’t good enough. She needs some time to consider her options.

The magic of writing that scene was that I HAD NO IDEA what was going to happen before I started. I channeled both of those characters and learned along with them. It was as much fun as it’s possible to have sitting behind a keyboard.

I love when the magic happens. It’s not very often, but when it does, it’s worth every minute of struggle, every hour of tedium, and every day of revision.

I’m a writer. And my cells are smiling.


Two very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of Who She Is and a handwoven bookmark from Diane Byington.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Great guest post. It must have been very exciting to get a publishing deal.

    1. You better believe it! I could hardly breathe for weeks!

  2. What a lovely guest post and heartfelt congratulations on becoming an author. You have certainly accomplished an enormous amount of careers and I do hope that being an author makes you smile every single day.

    1. Thanks for your sweet note. I hope you like the book.

  3. Congrats on publishing! It must feel awesome :)

    1. Yes, indeed. Thanks for your sweet note. I hope you like the book. The next one, The Second Time Traveler, should be out next year. Look for it!

  4. what a great guest post, thanks, really good to hear of your publishing and how you feel about showing the world your work xx

    1. Thanks so much. Thanks for reading the post. I hope you like the book. I just signed a contract for the next book, The Second Time Traveler, and it should be out next year. And I'm working really hard on a third.

  5. I learn something new about you every day. Great post. :)

  6. Great guest post, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for writing. I love sharing my work. I hope you like the book.

  7. Replies
    1. Me, too. I'm so proud to see that cover. Thanks for writing. Hope you like the book.