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Sunday, 27 August 2017

Writing - You'll Never Know Until You Try

Writing has always come easily for me. I never found the concept of grammar difficult. Spelling isn't usually an issue. I enjoy words. I like finding out the origins of expressions. I so appreciate well written stories, books, instructions... I write a great deal for my job. This blog, however, was the first time that I had ever written for pleasure and allowed other people to read my writing.

I have never been one to put myself out there in situations where I think I may come off looking like a fool. For example, I do not possess great physical prowess, so I am always hesitant (read "never will") to try things like downhill skiing, roller blading, group sports, etc. for fear that I will be so atrocious at it (or will seriously hurt myself). I'm not saying this is a healthy attitude, but it's how I am. Please don't recommend counselling. The one thing which is in stark contrast with this chicken shit persona is speaking in public. I actually don't have a problem getting up in front of a large group of people and speaking as long as I am prepared, or know what is needed of me. But don't ask me to hit a ball, or dive into the deep end, or play piano. Please don't ever ask me to play piano in front of anyone except maybe my cat.

So it was a bit of a leap for me to blog and send my words out into the great "inter web". It was shocking to receive that first comment. It was a greater shock that people returned to read what I had to say. I'm still completely thrilled and delighted to see comments (unless it is that creepy weird Asian spam comment).

Many moons ago, when my crazy grandmother was still alive, she would say that I was going to write children's stories when I grew up. When I was little (4, 5, 6 years old or thereabouts) I spent a lot of time drawing stories in booklets of plain newsprint. I would draw out the various scenes of stories, often about the Easter bunny (still love rabbits!), then would narrate them to my grandmother as she was working away in the kitchen. I did this because my older sister did the same thing. She would draw stories for me and tell me the stories out loud. There was an ongoing one that involved a squirrel (Sammy?) I adored these stories. It wasn't unusual to create illustrated stories. This was long before technology or even cable or satellite tv. I drew and created stories for fun. But as I say, my grandmother was crazy, so what did she know? She had full on arguments with the radio.

Where am I going with this? I am trying to gather up the nerve (because I feel this is a brave thing to do) to take that first leap into writing. I get worried about the what-ifs. I think too far into the future. My husband, who is always so encouraging, has told me to not even think about publishers or rejections, or copyrights, but instead to just write. Just write something. I think I could write for children because I've read a great deal of junk written for children and question how it ever got published. I feel that I could write rhyming stories, humorous stories, stories that children could relate to.

With my humble little blog, I am asking for guidance, suggestions, practical details, anything that you could tell me because YOU have written something and got it published, or your brother has, or you have a neighbour who works for a publishing company, or you are a free lance writer, or your great aunt Matilda writes for Hallmark cards, or anything! I'm not digging for compliments. I'm actually hoping somebody out there has already been down this road and can offer up some helpful hints on how to even begin and how to go from writing in long hand on three ring binder paper to actually sending an idea to a publisher.

Thank you, ahead of time, for any and all suggestions!

37 comments:

  1. I don't spelling or grammar, it's finding all the typos :(

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  2. I wrote a 'book' of children's rhyming poetry when my first grandchild was born. I found it yesterday in a folder and decided it wasn't too bad but I think kids books need really good illustrations. It's the story AND the pics that grab them.
    My brother wrote a book and got it published however I rather think he must have paid out and self published.
    You really must start writing!! Just start typing and worry about the rest of it later. Your blog is so interesting. I Believe You can do it!!!!

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    1. I agree that illustrations are key for children's books but I heard that the publisher decides on the illustrator. I take it you never submitted your books of poetry?
      Thanks for the reply, and yes, I just need to start!

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  3. Here in the UK there is something called 'The Writers' and Artists Year Book' which gives a lot of information for first time writers. Maybe there is something similar in Canada - do a bit of Google Research on that.
    Also buy a few childrens' publications and they will give you some publishers to approach with any outline you have.
    I would then suggest you let them have details - I used to write a lot of articles for magazines - mainly countryside or education - but in those days it was usual to send articles, double spaced typed. Now I guess it is computer but if a publisher is interested they will tell you how to submit.

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    1. That's the kind of thing I don't know - if you send in a hard copy of your writing or submit it online. Of course, neither detail matters if I have nothing written.

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  4. I found your blog through The Weaver of Grass. It seems like everybody in Bogland knows The Weaver of Grass!

    Publishing is a tough business but the guide book to the writing life that made me an author is The Forest For The Trees by Betsy Lerner. Get a copy and study it. It's really the only book I've ever read about the industry and it changed my life. I have never taken a single writing class, never workshopped a manuscript, never actually met a writer until I read Betsy's book and sat my ass down and wrote three sample chapters to submit to an agent, thanks to Betsy's words of wisdom (she is now my literary agent and I've had three travel memoirs published by BloomsburyUSA, all thanks to The Forest For The Trees).

    Writing is not a mystical calling, all it requires is that you DO it.

    P.S. When it comes to children's books, look around for a special guide to that process. I believe that it kills your chances of getting published if you submit an illustrated manuscript -- publishers prefer to read text only and choose their own illustrators.

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    1. Thank you, Vivian. Yes, Weaver seems to be a common denominator for many bloggers, as well as John at Going Gently. I will look for that book. Now I am seeing that you've given me the same information that I thought when I responded to Local Alien about illustrations.

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  5. That's "BLOGland". Not "bogland". Sorry, Weaver.

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  6. Go for it! I always wanted to get published, but didn't have the nerve. I had a Pulitzer Prize winning Uncle who was a newspaper editor and he encouraged me, but I never tried.

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    1. Writing for a newspaper is a whole other thing. I suppose it isn't too late for you to take your uncle's advice either. :)

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  7. I agree - just go write! One of my best friend's daughters kept writing and writing picture books and, lo and behold, she got a hit with one and it led to more. Now she is doing what she loves and it's paying her! You can't go wrong doing something you love.

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  8. Your husband is spot on. Write. Don't think beyond writing the best work you can. Write it and edit it and share it with trusted people and go back at it. There are publishers, of course -- that's down the line. And in this wonderful world of online publishing, you can always do it yourself if you need to or decide. But you can't do a thing till you write it. So, one, two, three -- GO! And you can do it!

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  9. I know nothing about writing for publication. I do know it's possible to do anything you set your mind to, so do it.

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  10. Just keep writing. When you've got something you feel is right, have others read it- we writers are too close to our own work to see mistakes.

    I saw your comment over at Karen's blog. The Thomson original version of the Jack Pine is displayed here at the National Gallery in Ottawa.

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    1. I've never been to the National Gallery, but I do want to visit some day. Thanks for coming over to my blog!

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  11. I agree with your husband. Just write. But what about taking a writing class? We have writing classes here either though the university or Parks & Rec. Having other people around you learning to do the same thing is encouraging and fun!

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    1. I did attend one writing workshop a few years ago. I don't live in a very populated area, so these sorts of things are few and far between unfortunately. Great idea, though. Thanks!

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  12. Go for it and have a go!
    I am always surprised that anyone reads my blog and I am ecstatic when they comment!

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    1. Thanks Maggie. It is exciting to get comments. I wonder if the bloggers who get hundreds of comments (Do you read Going Gently?)still get excited?

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  13. While the only writing I have done was years ago for weekly newspapers, I agree that the most important task is to get started and somerimes that is the hardest thing to do.

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    1. Yes, taking that first step. What is that famous saying? The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step?

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  14. While I don't have any practical words of advice, I do want to encourage you to "go for it" and keep writing.
    It would be fabulous to see your name on the cover of a book!

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  15. Years ago when we reeeealllly needed some extra income, I tried writing and submitting my work to various publications. The wall over my desk was papered with rejection letters, but I'm still writing because I like to do it. (Although not actively seeking publication.)

    I was asked to write a monthly column for a local women's publication which I did for a few years. My submitted copy always came back from the editor/publisher with scads of edits (which I made) and I learned a lot from her expertise.

    Here in the States we have a publication called Writer's Market which explains how to get published. That might be helpful to you.

    I agree with other comments and your husband's . . . if you enjoy writing (and you ARE good at it as we all can see), just write, write, write. If you truly have a desire to be published, it will happen. Remember that James Herriot was said to have submitted his first book "All Creatures Great and Small" to something like 17 different publishers before one picked it up.

    Wishing you all the luck in the world and let us know how the process goes. It's exciting!

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    1. I knew there would be someone out there in blogland who had some experience with this sort of thing. That's very neat that you wrote a monthly column!

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  16. I self-published, this post might help. Since then, I've done some photobooks, too! You have to hire a publicist, though.

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    1. Thanks Jenn (another Jenn) I am about to click on it now.

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  17. I am totally with your husband on this. Just write. The rest will sort itself out. And come to your blog for encouragement. You know how cool your blogging friends (like me 😇) are. We support one another. This is exciting! Looking forward to hearing more about this adventure.

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    1. Thanks Martha. You are tres cool! (sorry, don't know how to put the accent over the e)

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  18. Have you thought of enrolling in some of the night classes or workshops for creative writing, you could make some wonderful contacts. Contesgo College has campuses close to you or try Waterloo Univ. There's a grassroots group of writers that meet yearly in the Eden Mills Writer's Fest - which is coming up soon. Here's the link; http://edenmillswritersfestival.ca/ ... Mary-Lou

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  19. I agree with your husband - go for it! I've attended writing classes and am now in a writing group. I find both stimulating and helpful. Someone in the group reads out your work which is then discussed. We started out with a tutor but now meet in each others' houses on a weekly basis and it is good for creating a regular writing pattern. I wish you success.

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  20. I have no advice...but I have loads of support and encouragement to offer! Go for it!!

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  21. Well, I may know a little bit about this subject since publishing my first storybook over 10 years ago. My reason for doing it was similar to yours, there was so much junk out there...but my main focus wasn't the writing, it was the artwork. Because I believe storybooks should be beautiful, I set out to create just that, beautiful books. I agree that you should write for the love of it, and not expect much from the mainstream "PUBLISHING" outfits. We self-published from the start,we have about 60 thousand books out there in the world.Although we haven't sold millions of books, we do sell about 5000 books a year. It's worth looking into self-publishing, but if that's not your cuppa tea, I suggest looking into the smaller publishing houses. DO your homework on publishing, there is a lot of information out there. Keep writing, it will be good for your soul, even if you never publish a thing. You Are a good writer, in my opinion.

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