Sarah Abbett is Uniquely Unique.
Our long-standing tradition of giving a member the mic before our keynote speaker helps us get to know what our colleagues are working on. Our 5+5+5 guidelines (5 minutes of backstory, 5 minutes to read, and 5 minutes of Q&A) help emerging writers polish their professional skills.
Sarah Abbett will take the Member Spotlight before our November speaker, Susan Neufeld Paul. Get tickets here.
A second generation Bay Area native, Sarah Abbett grew up loving reading; writing was a natural outcome of that. But what was she thinking, trying both History and Biology as majors before she chose English? Who knows?
Sarah’s writing tends to reflect her unique personal flavor and ever so slightly satirical look on life. Because of unique ability for just odd things to happen to her, she’s had a few unique experiences—such as her time as the President of the Chinese Students and Scholars Club at Cal State East Bay, (even though she is not Chinese), her time with odd customer service calls (no, you cannot let out your pet lion when someone needs to look at your air conditioning system. Because we said so, that’s why), and the time the company bounced her check five times (with the explanation that “checks are hard”). There is only one Sarah. Did we mention she’s kind of unique?
Sarah enjoys writing poetry, trying to get other people to join her in writing poetry, and is now branching out into playwriting. She also has a lot of unfinished stuff – she should really do something with all of that someday.
NOTE from the president: Sarah Abbett joined CWC in February of 2023, and in June volunteered to be our new Membership Coordinator—thank you and welcome Sarah!
And now for a Poem:
Where the Ideas Come From
—by Sarah Abbett
Where do the words come from for the songs we sing?
Ex nihilo – out of nothing?
Do they germinate like seeds in the heart and the brain
and as they come out, do your life force they drain?
Is there an idea farm or orchard you can visit
to reap all the ripe ones as through the garden you pivot?
Are they wild animals, milling in a herd
and you must turn them – no, that’s absurd
Where the ideas come from, nobody knows
just like we can’t tell from where the wind blows
so enjoy the process, strap in for the ride,
and with them in your life, abide
And now here’s SM Abbett on Instagram:
At our November meeting, Sarah will raffle off a unique gift: A poem dedicated to you to be posted on her Instagram page! She says, “You can choose the general subject area (as long as I know enough to write a poem about it!), and the poem style (sonnet, ode, etc) to a limit of 30 lines, but please nothing over a PG13 rating or that would violate IG’s TOS! I will reserve the right to veto/request alternate ideas!”
And now a few final questions:
What’s the most important piece of writing advice that you could give to other writers?
When it comes to your writing, be your whole, honest self. There’s so much garbage today where people are trying to imitate others. That’s not bad as you’re learning to write, as you learn the craft and the genres you’re interested in, but when it comes to the stuff you know only you are ever going to see, don’t hold back – be your whole weird self. Try different things. But when you find what you’re good at and what you love, never let anyone tell you that you’re producing “too much” of one kind of content. Agatha Christie wrote approximately one billion mystery novels and nobody worth listening to ever seriously suggested she should start writing a sports column.
With all the odd things that just happen to you, how the heck do you manage your writing life?
With difficulty. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the very lucky few who manages to make an actual living at writing, you too will probably spend time fitting in writing amongst other things. This can be anywhere from a peaceful revelation to incredibly aggravating (why can’t I just run off into the woods and ignore capitalism, again?). It also tends to be seasonal. I know for me, the last month or so of the year is a more difficult time to write than other times. Knowing that helps me plan for it. It doesn’t always make it easy – sometimes it’s still incredibly aggravating that I have to do things like pay medical bills and buy groceries and pay the rent and another medical bill. And at least right now, my writing doesn’t pay for all of that. (Or any of that). But I can’t just abandon my writing to do work either. No judgment if you have to or if you’re in a season where you can’t write – it happens to the best and the brightest. But for me, I may have to show up to work and do my job to pay the bills. It does give me stories and ideas for writing. But writing is one of the things that gives my life meaning.
Meet Sarah when she opens for Susan Neufeld Paul on Grant Writing.