Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Good Book

I just finished reading Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin. She's a well known autistic woman who does a fascinating job of describing how her mind works and how it may differ from "normal' people's minds. If you've read previous blog posts here you probably know I'm fascinated with language and brain development, and I've spent a lot of time with people who have various special needs. Grandin's book includes all those topics, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed reading it a lot.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Very First Time

I told you about the first time I was published for pay, but here's what happened  the first time I was published at all. 
I was a total social misfit in High School - what we called a square back then. Our school was going to publish an anthology of things written by students, and I submitted something to my English teacher, who was in charge. He asked if it would be okay to publish something else that I'd written for class and I said, "Sure." But I'd forgotten about the thing I'd written months earlier and he'd asked to keep or I would have refused. When I saw it in print for all the school to read I didn't know whether to be more pleased or mortified, but mortified won out since it was extremely personal and revealing. As an adult I think it was pretty good writing and can see why my teacher chose it, but as a student it was very embarrassing. Maybe I'll dig it up and share it in another post so you can see what I mean.
At least I learned always to be careful what I submit for possible publication.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Real Writer

My senior year in college I got a new roommate who asked what I wanted to be when I graduated. I'd given up the idea of writing (cf previous post) but didn't know what else to do, so I told her I wanted to be a writer. "Do you have any rejection slips?" she asked. "All writers have rejection slips." 
I had none and she wouldn't let me alone. For months she kept asking me to show her my rejection slips and I got sick of her nagging. Finally I sent something I'd written as a little kid to a publication I knew couldn't possibly accept it. Sure enough, I got a rejection slip, showed it to her, and she let me alone.
Years later after getting the first thing I'd ever submitted published right away I began sending out other manuscripts and getting - you guessed it - rejection slips. That was a bit disappointing, but also exciting because they showed I was a real writer.
I've been grateful to that roommate, Sheila Walsh, ever since and wish I could get back in touch with her to express my gratitude.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More About Dreams

I don't intend to post something new here every day, but I just read a picture book that ties in so well with yesterday's post that I couldn't wait to tell you about it. It's called Jamie's Dream and tells about a little boy who wants to get a dream for his mother. The book is a cute fantasy involving a dragon and a unicorn written by Susan Berger and Christopher Corbin. The authors are a mother and son and Christopher helped Susan write the book when he was only nine years old. Getting it published must have been a dream come true for both of them even though it didn't happen until many years later. The words "believing is seeing" are repeated several times in the story and the book itself shows that at least sometimes that's true. So please keep believing in your dream, whatever it may be.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Drop the Dream

From early childhood I wanted to be an author when I grew up and majored in English in college. My first semester at UC Berkeley a professor asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. When I replied, "Be a writer," he told me, "You'll never make it. You have no creativity."
Since he was a brilliant university professor I believed him and gave up the idea of ever getting published though, of course, I continued to write. About twenty-five years later I remembered that conversation and realized I'd been trying to write everything in his class according to the thesis sentence outline required to pass the college entrance exam. I'd been trying to be as uncreative as possible. I wrote down a story I'd been telling my kids, sent it off, and it was accepted right away. I even got paid for it. And that was just the beginning of my writing career.
So if you have a dream of becoming a writer, don't give up. If it's what you're called to do and you keep on trying, your dream may come true. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New and Different

First I must apologize for not posting much recently. I've been overwhelmed with other things, but promise to do better from now on. One of those things is signing a contract for a picture book. My work has been published in periodicals for years, but this is my first book, and in today's world authors are responsible to do a lot of the marketing and publicity. The amount of information about how to do that is amazing. It's about what you'd expect from a whole semester class in college. 
Although blogging is one marketing tool mentioned in the material, I won't turn this blog into just a way to advertise my book. There will still be posts about compassionate communication and I'll probably review other people's books from time to time, but I'll also share information about how I became a writer and the steps it takes to get a book published and made available to people who would want to buy it. I hope you'll come back and join me on the journey.