Bernadette Pajer and Wednesday Writers · 29 April 2012

Photo courtesy UW/Mary Levin

Bernadette Pajer is a local star in the writing community, but she is not what I think of when I think of successful writers. When I think of writers, I see stuffy, pretentious, windbags. It is probably some remnant of a TV image from my misspent youth, and yet I aspire to be one of them. A successful writer, not a windbag. So when I went to a local writing group called Wednesday Writers, I was pleasantly reminded that writers are people just like me – normal folks who just like to write.

The Wednesday Writers meet at the public library in Monroe each week. The group makeup often changes from week to week, but one constant is Bernadette Pajer. Bernadette is the leader of the group and is an accomplished and humble writer. (A Spark of Death is her debut novel. It is the beginning of a series of Professor Bradshaw mysteries in which a professor of electrical engineering finds himself solving mysteries in Seattle around the turn of the 20th century. Her second installment of the series, Fatal Induction, hits the newsstands on May 1, 2012. I am sure it will be as gripping as the first.) Even though she is the expert in the group, she does not put on airs. She just tells it like it is and helps the group to tell their own stories of writing successes and failures.

Bernadette and every other professional in the industry will tell you, writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes years to perfect your craft and even then, success is often dependent on the whims of publishers and editors. Bernadette often tells our group that it took her twenty years of writing before she got that first acceptance letter from a publisher. When that acceptance letter did come, she was confused, then thrilled by it. She was confused because the congratulations and publication offer were not even given until the third paragraph of that fateful letter.

When I first attended Wednesday Writers, I figured I would try to pick up some nugget of wisdom and then go on my merry way. I just knew that in the first meeting, Bernadette would be able to give me some advice or thought to help propel me to writing stardom. All I needed was one meeting to soak up some good vibrations. Instead, I found a great group of people who were willing to be resources and sounding boards for each other. I found a support group of fairly normal people who are already or are working toward making it to the ranks of published writers. And I found in Bernadette, a leader and facilitator who could help folks like me by being a cheer leader and distributor of practical advice. Needless to say, I have stuck around for more than one meeting.

Unlike her main character, Professor Bradshaw, Bernadette does not solve problems in a logical and practical way. She does not try to solve each person’s writing mysteries. Instead, she listens and helps people get advice from each other rather than merely spouting platitudes. She tells of her own challenges and successes. And she believes in people (which is like Professor Bradshaw).

I have been unable to attend our Wednesday Writers meeting lately and I miss our group’s time with each other and with Bernadette. We all get together to encourage each other in what is normally a lonely endeavor and to share stories of writing struggles and triumphs. Thankfully, we are not a bunch of stuffy, pretentious windbags (even though it might be fun to be one). We are just normal people pursuing our passion.

I enjoy our Wednesday Writers and look forward to seeing them all again. I also look forward to our nice little bonus of basking in the presence of our own local icon of writing success, Bernadette Pajer.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Published 25 April 2012 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News



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