Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Writer's Life For Me

            I have never considered myself a very good writer.  I never liked reading as a child and slept through English classes in junior high. High school was a joke. I never paid attention. It was just not my thing.  But when I was 12 years old, I attended a church youth group workshop on journal writing. I wrote in my journal all the time.  Little did I realize it would be the beginning of my writing career.

            After college, I married my eternal companion and we started a family.  I continued to write in journals and by the time I had my fourth child, I had completed four journals.  I didn’t think much of my writing until I was pregnant with my fifth child.  The school district where we were living had decided to implement year-round school and there was a large number of parents who were opposed to it.  With pen in hand, I started to write petitions and a speech I was to present to the Board of Education.  I put a lot of emotion and passion into it and discovered that it was very therapeutic.  I knew writing in my journal would help me to feel better at times but this was different.  Other people would be reading what I wrote and my feeling for writing changed.  With the power of the pen, I had the chance to change people’s minds about what was going on in the school district.  I could rally the parents together for our cause and possibly change the school district’s mind about year-round school.  That experience gave me a sense of empowerment and I wanted to keep writing. I wrote what I knew about best which was the family.  I wrote page after page of family stories, antidotes and wisdom I had learned over the years.  Now that I had all this writing what was I to do with it? 

            After Caleb was born I felt a strong prompting to keep writing.  We moved across country from California to Alabama and I still felt the "call".  I then decided to divide up my writing by subject matter and submit the writings as articles in a column for the local paper.  The editor liked what I wrote and asked me to add more researched information and my first column Where the Heart Is was born.  I only had 10 pieces published when a new publisher bought out the local paper and my editor quit. Unfortunately, the new editor did not like what I had to say and decided against publishing my column. This was a frustrating setback and I had to start all over again.

            Did I give up?  No.  Did I keep on writing? Yes.  I continued writing my column in hopes to find a market.  By the time I wrote article number sixty, I had already submitted my articles to every market and small paper on the East coast, I decided to ditch the column idea and publish the whole sixty essays in a book myself.  If the book was as successful as the feedback from my column, I would be very happy.  I knew people liked reading about families and how important they were and I also felt strongly that I should share what I had to say. I found the best time for me was at night when every one was a sleep.  I could concentrate on what I needed to say and it was quiet.

            Then a friend of mine told me about a writer’s group she belonged to on the internet.  It was an all women’s group who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  We all had the same ideals and beliefs and we all supported each other with our writings. (American Night Writers Asscociation)  I could submit something for critique and they gave honest, helpful opinions on how I could improve what I wrote.  I also did the same for them.  The culmination of belonging to this group came when I was able to attend a retreat up in the mountains of Arizona for a weekend.  Twenty-five of the one hundred members showed up with laptops and writings to share and boy did we share.  It was the best time I ever had with a group of writer women.  We listened to workshops and critiqued each other writings without hurting feelings and I left there with the motivation to finish all of my writing projects.  Belonging to a writer’s group is so helpful in keeping to your long term goal of getting published.  Being motivated by a real live person as opposed to reading about being a successful writer can give you the great motivation you really need to persistently write every day; especially when you are blocked or discouraged.

            I continue to write all the time and it has been twenty three years since I started writing that petition.  There are challenges (like raising nine children) that take up my time but I persevere.  Persistence is a great tool for writers and the payback is well worth the effort.  I have attended numerous writer's conferences improving my writing skills and listening to other successful writers. I now have 4 nonfiction books published with many articles syndicated all over the internet.  I write for two ezines regularly and up until six months ago I had my own newspaper column I had written for 4 years. I wrote 9 children’s picture book stories and I’m pursuing an agent for publication.  I love writing and I love the publishing world. I love that I can stay home with my children and do something that I feel so motivated to do and leave a legacy behind.
So to sum up:  To be a successful writer you should--
1. Start writing what you like and what you know.
2. Join a Writer's Group
3. Don't give up when discouraged
4. Attend writing seminars and workshops to learn all you can about writing.
5. Write every day

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