Saturday, February 4, 2012

Becoming a Writer

Recently someone asked me to explain how I became a writer, so here’s the story.

From early childhood I wanted to be an author and majored in English in college. I carefully wrote every assignment in my first English class according to the Thesis Sentence Outline that had been drilled into us in high school.

One day the professor asked what I wanted to do after graduation. When I told him my goal to be a writer he replied, “You’ll never make it. You have no creativity.”

Foolishly I believed him and gave up the dream of getting published, although I never stopped writing. But no other career seemed right so I still told people I wanted to be a writer.

My roommate said, “Show me your rejection slips. You’re not a writer unless you have rejection slips.” To stop her nagging, I sent something to a publication where I knew it couldn’t possibly be accepted, showed her the rejection slip, and she left me alone.

One day about 25 years later I remembered the professor’s words and realized following that outline had made my writing uncreative. I wrote a children’s story I had often told my kids, submitted it to two possible publishers, and it was accepted by one of them.

“That was easy,” I thought.

I typed out something else, sent it off, and got the first of many rejections. That showed I was really a writer!

Realizing I needed to learn the craft, I read books, subscribed to magazines, attended conferences and joined a critique group. As with any other profession, there was a lot to learn.

Since then I’ve lost count of how many things I’ve had published in periodicals, and I’m now the author of three books for kids. A fourth one, Slime and All, will be published this month.

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