Saturday, January 30, 2010

 

The 'Luck' of a Writer

By Jill Earl

"Luck favors the prepared, darling."

These words were uttered by intrepid inventor Edna Mode to Helen Parr/Elastagirl, of Disney’s ‘The Incredibles’. Here are a few definitions of ‘luck’, according to Dictionary.com:

1) the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities.
2) good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance.
3) a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person.

There are those who believe in luck, but I’m not one of them. My problem with the concept is its implication of a chance occurrance, a randomness. There’s no concreteness about it. For me, if you want something badly enough, you got to work for it. This certainly holds true for writing. For every ‘overnight sensation’ or ‘wonder writer’ that appears on the scene, rest assured that that person spent years at the craft, and will continue to do so.

“Luck favors the prepared, darling.”

Let’s take a look at what Dictionary.com had to say about ‘prepared’:

1) properly expectant, organized, or equipped; ready.

The way I see it is that in the process of actually writing, reading, researching markets, taking classes, networking with peers, and doing other writerly things equips me with the skills I need to accept any opportunity that comes my way. I don’t see any randomness here, do you?

“Luck favors the prepared, darling.”

I love Edna, but I think she missed the mark somewhat. Luck won’t make you a writer, diligence at the craft will. That starts with butt in chair and fingers at the keyboard typing out your tale, poem or article, if you will. And with time, those opportunities will come.

And you can quote me on that, darling!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

 

A Day of Thanksgiving

Today is not only a day for eating turkey, enjoying time with family and friends, and giving thanks for those in your personal lives, it's also a time to be thankful for your writing life.

I'm lucky to have a job where I get to work with talented writers who inspire me daily. These writers include our current staff members: Margo L. Dill, Marcia Peterson, LuAnn Schindler, Joanne Stacey, Jill Earl, Jodi Webb, Anne Greenawalt, Carrie Hulce, Cher'ley Grogg, Chynna Laird, and Elizabeth King Humphrey. And the many, many previous staff members (including most recently Alison Diefenderfer and Senior Editor Annette Fix) who've passed through the WOW! halls. Working with these ladies is such a joy. They're all excellent writers and I love hearing what they're up to in their writing lives and watching them grow as writers.

I'm also thankful for our instructors who've chosen to teach with WOW! Your knowledge and ability to help others with enthusiasm and patience is extraordinary. We're lucky to have you, and those that take your classes are lucky too!

I'm thankful for the Premium-Green community of women writers. This group has to be one of the most encouraging group of writers out there. Thank you for sharing your successes, big or small, and engaging in conversations about the freelance writing life on the group boards. You bring out my entrepreneurial spirit and inspire my pep talks! I hope they inspire you too.

To the multitude of contestants, I owe you a big thank you for always being gracious and understanding--even if we're late with prizes. I love reading your stories and learning more about you through interviews here on The Muffin. You're all such a talented bunch of writers, so creative. I'm still in awe at how you can come up with a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end in such a short word count.

I'm thankful for the guest judges we have each season, who donate their time and judge stories simply for the love of the written word. Thank you for dedicating yourself to our contests and for encouraging writers everywhere.

I'm especially thankful for those of you who visit and read WOW! and share your comments, stories, successes, and your passion for writing. It's this community that keeps me motivated and striving for the best.

To the freelancers and interviewees who've worked with WOW!, I'm thankful for your well written articles and for the advice you've shared with our readers. Without you, there wouldn't be a publication.

And last, but certainly not least, to my webmaster and partner, Glenn Robnett. Thank you for your dedication to WOW!, your expert tech savvy, and for always making our publication look beautiful and shine online.

So as you enjoy a day of family and friends, remember to give thanks to those in your writing life too. (Before you fall into a turkey-induced tryptophan-coma!) Happy Thanksgiving!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

 

What’s Top of (Your) Mind?

By Jill Earl

Lately I’ve been reflecting on something I read last month from a newsletter I receive from the Working Solo site, which is targeted to the self-employed. In the April 22 issue, founder Terri Lonier spoke of how a simple question from close friend Jerry Michalski, in addition to opening the door to meaningful conversation, causes her to ponder on what’s really foremost in her thoughts.

That question, “What’s top of mind?”, says Ms. Lonier, “makes you consider what is most important in your life and work, and what commands your attention at present.” In answering that for myself, I focused on a couple of the questions included in the article and how they relate to my writing, and the results follow.

* What idea, experience, or encounter intrigues you enough that you want to share it (and perhaps launch a discussion) with someone like Jerry?

After attending the Conversations & Connections Conference in Washington, D.C. last month, I was able to share that experience with Amy, a fellow attendee and new writing friend. During our discussions that day, we found that we shared the same faith; liked many of the same books, music and artists; compared notes after our respective editors meetings and sessions; and challenged each other in our writing. We’ve even ‘friended’ each other on Facebook. Hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to attend the Festival of Faith & Writing together next year.

* What has brought you the most joy or satisfaction recently? Why?

Right now, it’s the online magazine writing class I’m currently taking that’s giving me great satisfaction. I’d wanted to take that type of class for a while to explore another genre and expand my knowledge base. And I looked no further than the WOW! Women On Writing Classes & Workshops offerings. Yeah, I know, shameless plug, but check them out anyway!

Find the full article in the Working Solo archives here: http://www.workingsolo.com/minute060.html.

While you’re there, check out the latest issue of Working Solo Minute and sign up for the newsletter. I’ve found it to be quite helpful in my writing career.

What’s top of mind? Ask yourself that the next time you need to reflect on what's really happening with you and your writing.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

 

And you are?

I am a writer.

I earned my master’s in fine arts for creative writing in 2003.

It would seem that those two ideas should be in one sentence. I’m one of those women from a young age who loved writing poetry, short stories and watched in awe as friends became enmeshed in a world of words. After all, mine was just a “hobby.” They were Writers. I passed up opportunities to write for publication because I didn’t feel I was good enough.

Then I enrolled for my master’s in creative writing, because it was something I thought I had to do to call myself a Writer. I graduated with a draft of a novel and the belief that I would take publishing by storm. While fellow graduates managed to get their books published, I wallowed in the self-pity of remaining “unpublished,” never able to quite find an agent who would take on this dewy-eyed Writer.

I landed at the local newspaper and started having a byline in the paper and in its magazine. I freelanced on the side. I was sheepish about it. I met up with a friend, whose book had just been published. At one point, as she gushed about her success and briefly asked about my job, she asked if I still considered myself a Writer.

I thought back to all that I had written since graduation. I multiplied that to the readership of the publications I wrote for and responded that I did. However, her comment stung.

I realized that I consider myself—and always have considered myself—a writer. I may never become a Writer. But I am okay with that. For a year, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer. I write blogs, and for the newspaper, the local women’s magazine and an area business journal. In my spare time, I read my children’s fiction to my oldest children. Their passion for my fiction is endearing—and rewarding in itself.

And, while my unpublished novel and children’s stories may collect dust long after I am long gone, each week, it never fails. I meet someone at my children’s school or at the dentist’s office who will say, “I just saw that article you wrote. I didn’t know you are a writer.”

I look them in the eye and say, “Yes, I am—and so much more!”

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer, columnist and blogs for wilmaville. To have the opportunity to listen to read her children's stories, stop by prior to bedtime most any night of the week.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: The Power of Writing in My Life, Guest Post by K. L. Mc Loughlin


The Power of Writing in My Life

by K. L. Mc Loughlin

Baby Steps is the story of one women starting over with a second chance at love and happiness. Lynda Blake is a widow with a teenage son struggling to find room for herself in her own life. From the very beginning I knew she deserved to be happy, I knew I was going to find a way for her to have it all, a happy ending that was really a happy beginning.

Lynda is a character I know well. In many ways she and I think alike. I was determined to give her a life I didn’t think I’d ever have. When I created her, I had two small children, one in pre-school, one in kindergarten and was hanging on in an unhappy marriage. I’d made my bed and for the sake of kids I was laying in it. But Lynda was free and she had her chance, I was going to make darn sure that she made the most of it.

As you can see, my first real experience with the power of intention and affirmations came about inadvertently by writing this novel. Now, I’m not the fastest of writers. From start to submission I spent four and a half years writing and rewriting my novel.

I learned about Lynda’s love interest Dr. Michael Cameron early on in the process. He was tall, dark hair, strong, had the look of a solid man but most importantly he was a man who was honest with himself about who he was good and bad. He was a man who not only knew how to love but didn’t need Lynda to be anybody other than who she was.

By the end of my third draft of Baby Steps, three years later, I had been separated from my soon to be ex-husband for the better part of a year and the divorce was all but signed. I’d dedicated myself to learning all I could about myself so that I would not dare make the same mistakes again. If I was going to get a second chance at love I was going to make all new mistakes this time! I wanted to learn about myself and grow so that I would be ready for love. I woke up every day happy and appreciated that more than I can express. I was lonely but it was so much easier to be lonely and alone than lonely and in a relationship.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever really trust a man enough to be willing to bring him into my children’s life when I met my very own Michael. He is strong and solid. He has black hair. He is honest with himself and knows how to love better than I do. He has an EQ off the charts. For some reason this amazing man fell in love with me and my kids. We became a family and married 11 months later.

I had no idea when I began writing Baby Steps that I was opening the door to my own new happy beginning but if Lynda deserved to be happy then I did too. So even if you can’t see your way out of where you are write it for someone else, someone kind of like you and see what happens. You just might create your own new beginning too!

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K.L. Mc Loughlin is the author of Baby Steps and host of PIVTR's Today's Women. For more information please visit her website www.klmcloughlin.com or www.internetvoicesradio.com.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

 

Friday Speak Out: Keep At It! Guest Post by Michelle Hickman

Keep At It!

By Michelle Hickman

The house is quiet. The nephews are in bed. My niece has had her bottle and will give me at least four hours of time before her soft cries push through the nursery walls as she asks for her next feeding. The house is quiet...for about two seconds.

Tap-tap-tap-tap.

My fingers skim over the black keys, giving light strikes as I try to keep the noise down. However, my mind will not be quiet. Its words have grown louder and my hands have to obey them over my worry of an awakened child. This is my time away from the aches in my back after I had swept all the floors. My time away from wrinkled skin soaking in greasy dishwater as I had washed the mountain of plates to feed dinner to three children who ate like twenty hungry firefighters.

Eyes stray to look over at the cup of steaming tea. My tongue runs across dry lips. I drank a diet soda this afternoon when the kids had their snacks and watched "Dora the Explorer" videos. Yes, one can (half really) before I ran into the basement as the washer buzzed at the end of the rinse cycle. By the time I returned to finish the can (five hours later after another mess to clean because the kids thought it would be neat to lick the back of Teddy Graham crackers and stick the tiny bears to every window), the warmness had offended my taste buds enough to pour the rest of the soda down the sink. Then I grabbed the scouring pad to rub out the rust stains along the drain that I had been neglecting for the past week.

The tea appears tempting. Yet my fingers keep typing, refusing to take away any time from my writing. I dare not stop now. The boys have a full schedule for me tomorrow. They will fill my day with watercolor paints staining the carpet and missing jigsaw puzzle pieces I will spend most of the morning trying to find only to then have the kids wanting to play with their missing matchbox cars instead.

My hands stop moving over the keyboard. I hear a noise. Was it one of the boys having a nightmare? Or perhaps a stuffed animal falling from the crib as the lack of fuzzy warmness against my niece's face will cause her to awaken? No. The noise is coming from outside. I tense. House keys jiggle in the lock. The door opens.

My brother is home from work. He asks, "How were the kids today?" I wince, not from the question but from the loudness of his voice.

"DADDY'S HOME!" Two pairs of running feet enter the hallway from the boys' bedroom. Then wailing cries begin from the nursery.

I look at the computer screen. Four lines. Four sentences sit alone on the word processor page. I smile at the wonderful sight. I got farther than expected.

Even four sentences are considered an accomplishment in a writer's hectic life.

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Michelle Hickman is the owner of The Surly Writer, a fun and inspiring blog that posts stories of surly humor and, as Michelle says, "on occasion bits of useful information, although I'm trying to stomp out that bad habit." We think she's way too modest though!

Her blogger profile says, "I grew up in the rural hills of Pennsylvania (yes, I am a hillbilly--you do not have to rub it in.) I first discovered a love for writing in high school where I had the opportunity to annoy my fellow students by waxing poetry. No! I didn't use car polish on it, although it would have given the verses a nice shine. My pleasures in life involve laughing at a good pun, enjoying a good read, and having a good friend."

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

 

Putting Yourself Out There As A Writer

By Jill Earl

Some time ago, I wrote about the benefits of membership in local writers’ associations, such as attending conferences, becoming part of critique groups, and taking advantage of networking opportunities. It’s the latter that I struggle with.

Why? Because it means coming out of my comfort zone big time. Others don’t believe me when I tell them I’m introverted, because I can extrovert when necessary. One friend has said that she’s amazed at how I can ‘work the room’ at gatherings we’ve attended.

The fact is, we writers must put ourselves out there to let the world know we exist. How else will they learn about us and our work, read what we produce, hear our voices?

Later tonight, I’ll help man the Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) booth at my favorite September event, the Baltimore Book Festival. Along with fellow members, I’ll spend a few hours chatting up the organization with festival-goers and share my experiences with MWA. Afterwards, I’ll slip into the crowd to enjoy my yearly book festival fix.

It's another chance to learn how to network effectively and well, a necessary skill in the writing life. And I enjoy meeting new people.

Can you relate? If so, what are some ways you’ve dealt with putting yourself out there? I’d love to hear from you.

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