A FREE NEWSLETTER FOR NEW AND USED WRITERS — ARE YOU LOOKING FOR LESSONS IN SPINNING ORDINARY WORDS INTO MAGNIFICENT PICTURES?
AUTHOR OF 40 FICTION NOVELS — 8 NONFICTION BOOKS — 15 SHORT STORIES
PLUS UNCOUNTABLE NEWSPAPER FEATURES OVER 20 YEARS — ALL PUBLISHED
I can no longer hold private workshops or attend conferences, so I’m hoping to solve that by offering this monthly blog in the form of a newsletter. All my writing life I’ve enjoyed mingling with “new and used” writers and discussing the talent of writing. So stick with me if you can.
Always wonder what particular fate leads a writer to success? Their particular type of success, because it doesn’t always mean the same to everyone. I’m here to tell you where a story comes from for each of you, and how you as a writer can make it happen.
Ever wanted to be a writer? Struggling with what to say and how to say it? Trying to write those first words? Those in the middle? Wrapping up the end?
Or you are a writer but somehow can’t get the words published. Join an experienced teacher and writer ready to hand over free advice and learning.
Would you believe that, when asked, 85% of adults say they “always wanted to write a book, if they ever had the time.” Until they realized it was a bit more difficult than magic.
It’s a good thing for professional writers that most of them never take the final step to make that wish come true. Only .03% of the general population are professional writers according to Freelancing In America.
In spite of the fact that one million books are available to the reading public, the popular online newsletter, Words on Words states, “when you look at the data, one thing becomes clear: it’s a good time to be a writer.”
I can hear some of you free-lancers currently out of work groaning in disbelief. But hang tight and I’ll help you out of your misery with a tale of elusive success called published.
I’ll bet you think writing is too tough a gig. Or it’s too time consuming? But let’s look at some attractive facts about the job.
Writers set their own hours, choose their subject matter, can carry their work to the park in something as compact as a portable electronic tablet, and guess what? We’re the only people in the world who hear voices and aren’t called crazy. Furthermore, if we write fiction we can lie for a living and be paid for it.
What fun is that? Well, sure, those last two factoids are a bit outrageous. But come on, let’s have a bit of fun. As one of those weird writers, we’re allowed. Right?
Let’s get to the point and back up some of our seemingly unbelievable statements.
Here’s my story of struggling through the swamp of publication. I’ll make it short. My first publications were with magazines back in the 1980s. Oh, yeah, it’s true. The 1980’s existed once in a long ago and faraway time. And yes, just hang in there, you’ll learn something from this from the historic past.
Early on, back then, I recall writing about a woman who raised her own sheep, single-handed turned the battling animals on their back to shave, or sheer, off all that wool. As if that weren’t enough she then spun the wool into yarn on a spinning wheel and knit sweaters from the results. I was allowed to hold a baby sheep in my arms. As with all baby animals, it was quite adorable. I sold the article with photos first time out.
How could it be? Friends asked. Maybe because I tried? That’s the only memory I have of those early articles I wrote and sold. And you can probably see why. It’s true, people had a lot less to keep them busy back then.
Okay, so no magazines out there would ever buy such a story today. Right. In fact, no magazines out there would ever publish such a story, you say? But wait. Have you checked online lately? Do you know how many more magazines exist today than in the 1980s? And how many utterly ridiculous stories are being published? Or not so ridiculous. Come on. Someone is interested in nearly everything.
From 18 million e-magazine readers in 2015 in the US alone, Statista expects the number to more than double at 40 million consumers of e-magazines by 2021. https://www.paperlit.com/blog/the-huge-growth-of-digital-magazines/ So, there you go, magazine writers. You’re a year past that date. Read some, see what they’re publishing.
While I found that a good start for a late-in-life career, it wasn’t what I was looking for. So I said yes when my employer at a craft shop asked me to write a weekly newspaper column featuring those who hand-made crafts for our business.
Three rural weekly newspapers already carried the column. A ready-made sale. Well, not a sale. I wasn’t paid for it. But again hang on. Think again. During the next months I featured a couple who turned out clay pots and dishes, a world famous father and daughter wood carver, an 80-year-old cedar chest maker, and several varied jewelers, quilters, and artists of all varieties, to name a few.
As it turned out, in those days anyone who created something from nothing was a craftsman, so to speak. While I learned things like those who make clay pots are called pot throwers, I didn’t feel it was an educating career, though I was having a lot of fun. But I was reaching the 50 year mark on my birthday calendar. I needed something substantial to say I did for a living. It was definitely time to move on.
Then one of the larger of the papers advertised for a feature writer and my mother actually talked me into applying for the job. With a notebook of clips in hand, I made an appointment with the editor/owner of the newspaper. I would never get this job. Surely some better-qualified writer would snap this up.
He hired me without glancing at the clips, saying he had read my articles about the crafts people in the area. I cheerfully turned over my prior writing job to my mother, who was eager to take it. (Think she had some ulterior motives earlier?) No matter. At the age of fifty, I began a fantastic job that would last 20 years.
Later, interviews took me up in airplanes of many varieties when they came to Drake Field for air shows. There was Fifi, the only B29 bomber still airborne. It could be I sat in one of the seats attached inside her by my mother, who went to work at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita after my Dad went off to the Navy during World War II.
Then there was the breathtaking ride in a stunt plane that led me to write several articles featuring the pilot, Joe Kittinger, America’s first spaceman. Those articles were all posted on his website pages.
On August 16, 1960, Kittinger took a ride in a balloon far out into space long before the term astronaut was more than a word in the dictionary. And without the equipment needed when later jumps set records, he stepped into the darkness of outer space and passed out during a free fall. When I took my ride in the sky with him at the controls, I had no idea about his background. I’d been told he was touring air shows performing and giving rides. Following our interview I wrote several articles about him and they were displayed on his website.
So take advantage of every opportunity that comes along. You never know when you’ll hit something big and exciting. Come back next week and we’ll check some more career offerings you might find in your search to become a writer. Follow along next week.