Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Last Day of the Year...

The final hours of 2008 are ticking away. What a wonderful time to reflect upon the blessings and lessons of the past year.

One year ago today, I wouldn't have even guessed that I would be writing again. Now I am full of excitement and hope for my career in 2009!

Tomorrow will be for planning, today is for enjoying!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Accountability...Or Lack Thereof!

I have never sent a query. Is that weird? I was thinking about this last night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I think I have never queried because I don't want to be held accountable for something I haven't prepared yet.

Seriously, I am accountable for my children, my house, our laundry, our grocery shopping...the list is never-ending (I am so thankful I am NOT a single mom. I can't imagine the accountability there). So I am thinking that NOT querying is a result of needing to be in control of something--my writing!

Or is this just a cop-out?

I am not sure yet. 

But I know that my methods have worked well so far. I prepare an article and send it, in completion, to regional parenting publications as a reprint. Not big $$, but lots of exposure. I send an essay, the full manuscript, and let the recipient decide if the finished work fits the bill. 

I do write one monthly column for Military Spouse Magazine & I stress every single month about whether or not it is good enough, appropriate, etc.

So, I guess what I am realizing is that this writing thing is a work in progress & I will get where I am supposed to be in time!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Therapeutic Essays

I love writing essays. I am not saying I am GOOD or BAD at it, I'm just saying that I LOVE it. 

For me, the benefits of writing an essay are very therapeutic. 

My essay ideas always begin with a problem, frustration or challenge I am facing in real life. As I work my way through the piece, I get a lot off of my chest. 

Then I am forced to look at the universal appeal of my problem. Who else might be experiencing this? How can I make a large audience relate to what is going on in my life?

Finally, I must develop a new way to look at the issue. I either solve my own problem or realize that I can put a positive spin on what was initially a very negative situation. Hopefully, I have done the same for my reader.

I have even found that adding a little touch of research, either within the body of the essay or as a sidebar, can be a great way to learn more about my topic and share with others.

I'd love to hear more about your writing process and whether you find this type of writing therapeutic as well!

In the writing spirit...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finding A Target Market

I took an essay class from Writers On The Rise and learned a valuable lesson: always find your target market before you write an essay!

Here's my personal experience example! I have a 500-word essay about the haircut my daughter gave herself. I think it is a good essay, but I wrote it without a market in mind and now I am stuck with an essay that is too short for most parenting publications. On the other hand, I wrote an essay specifically for Southern Living Magazine's "Southern Journal" section and it got picked up right away. 

One of the most time-consuming parts of freelance writing is finding writer's guidelines. I think it is even more difficult to find guidelines for personal essay markets. I thought I'd share the info for Southern Living in case any of you would like to try your hand at this market!

Contact: Sara Askew Jones
The only column that we
accept freelance articles on a regular basis is our SOUTHERN JOURNAL
column. For this column, we don't have a rigid set of guidelines;
however, there are some characteristics of a typical Journal that you
might find interesting. 

Above all, it must be Southern. We need comments on life in this
region--written from the standpoint of a person who is intimately
familiar with this part of the world. It's personal, almost always
involving something that happened to the writer or someone he or she
knows very well. We take special note of stories that are contemporary
in their point of view. 

We require that the piece be original and not published anywhere else
before. We need about 500-600 words, typed and double spaced. The
writing must have an essay quality--as opposed to a reporting,
interpretive, or editorial approach. Finally, it must be of
exceptionally high quality. Past contributors have included some of the
best-known writers in the South. We've also featured lesser-known, yet
talented people who had something important to say. 

If you think your proposed piece would fit this format, we'd be willing
to look at it. We can't guarantee acceptance of any piece for
publication, but if we do decide to use it, we will negotiate a fee forTh
complete ownership rights. Send your essay along with a SASE to Sara
Askew Jones, Editorial Department, at the address shown below or you may
email it. And please be patient--we receive a large volume of Journal
submissions, so our evaluation process sometimes takes several weeks or
longer. Nevertheless, you will be notified of our decision regarding
your essay. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Finding My Niche

The idea behind this blog is a work in progress...just like my writing career. I have already enjoyed publishing success. Now I want to narrow the scope of my writing and find my niche. I frequently lose sleep wondering what my specialty is. Where will I land and will it be in a place that suits me and allows my career to flourish?

Originally, I thought my niche would be in somewhere in the health and fitness field. I found that writing about those topics is a bit of a struggle for me. My articles are accurate, but flat. They lack passion.

I am leaning now towards a niche in the essay-writing arena, but I cannot seem to narrow my scope any further. I enjoy writing essays and have had success with Southern Living Magazine. In fact, that is one of only two essays I have submitted and it got picked up within three weeks! I seem to be able to pop essays out pretty quickly and I LOVE writing them. So I will see where this takes me and I will check back frequently to let you know.

I would love to hear your success stories and lessons learned when it comes to essay writing and submitting!