One Writer’s Journey

March 17, 2017

First Time’s the Charm

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:01 am
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Don’t expect your first story to sell.  Those are the words of wisdom that we experienced writers pass on to beginners. And I have to admit that my first manuscript is still just mine.  And I have no plans to submit it.  After all, I was new and it is pretty horrid.

But then I read an article on rebus writing.  Rebus, for those of you who aren’t in the know, are short pieces for pre-readers.  Some of the nouns are removed with pictures taking their places.  The pre-reader can then decipher the words represented by pictures and read.  I wrote a rebus and sent it to Ladybug.  “The Flying Contest” was my first sale.  First rebus.  First sale.  I’ve never been able to sell another or anything else to Ladybug for that matter.

Then I sent READ a pitch for a nonfiction article on distance swimmer Gertrude Ederle.  “Can you write it as reader’s theater?”  Sure!  After learning all about reader’s theater, I wrote “Gertrude Ederle vs the English Channel.” It sold but I got rejections on my next attempt.

Last summer, I was doing some reading on the treadmill.  I can access magazines electronically through my library so I caught up on Highlights Hello! and High Five.  Inspired by Hello, I walked and played around with the rhythms of various words and phrases.  It took some playing around, okay I lot of playing around, but I eventually had roughed a humorous poem called “Tiger Cat.”  Tuesday I got word that it had told to Highlights Hello.

My very first manuscript will never sell.  In fact I probably have my first ten manuscripts sitting around here gathering dust.  (Ten is a kind, conservative estimate.)  But first manuscripts in a new type of writing?  Those seem to be a good thing for me.


Of course, my husband has made a suggestion.  “What about trying a block buster series?”  Wise guy.



February 15, 2017

You’re so lucky: Luck Doesn’t Drive Successful Writing Careers

horse-shoe-110987_1920Recently, Hope Clark, the editor of one of my favorite newsletters, Funds for Writers, wrote about someone telling her how lucky she is.  “You were lucky to have FundsforWriters to sell your books. I don’t have that luxury.”
Personally, I find it a little hard to believe that the person who said this can coordinate walking and breathing at the same time.  Rude comment on my part?  Probably, but you have to be a little clueless to think that Hope’s success has been as a result of luck.  Like all successful writers, she didn’t luck into success, she made it starting with FundsforWriters.  She built it.  Yes, she advertises her books in the newsletter but she worked hard to have both a successful newsletter and 5 novels?  6 novels?  I’d have to go count them to be sure.  It didn’t just happen.  Hope is world-class at looking for opportunities and working hard.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’m lucky too.  I get to work from home.  I get to write for a living.  I have ten books in print.  Well, guess what?  None of that just happened either.  When I started writing, I was going to write picture books.  I took a class with Pat McKissack and roughed out several manuscripts.  Then a friend started editing Young Equestrian magazine.
I wasn’t a magazine writer but she was looking for writers.  Hmm.  Take advantage of the opportunity or decide that it wasn’t right for me?  I went with Choice A.
Then another friend’s editor contacted me.  She needed someone who could write how-to articles for other writers.  Did I have experience?  Only in my regional SCBWI newsletter.  I’d never been paid and this wasn’t writing for children.  But again I said yes.
This is how I wrote and sold how-tos, book reviews, testing materials, crafts, science fair projects, pre-school class materials, and now nonfiction books.  I saw opportunities and I said yes.  I didn’t wait around for a lucky break.
Should I have focused on picture book writing?  I’m sure some people would say yes but that wasn’t the path I chose.  I’m not going to say that I’ve been unlucky but I don’t believe my career has relied on luck.  Instead, I rely on my willingness to see an opportunity and try something new.
What about you?  Are looking for opportunities?

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