The idea behind these absolutely free courses is that most people who want to write, don't for a few very manageable reasons. One of the reasons is that it's difficult to see yourself as a writer, given the limitations we're raised with. We tend to think that only certain types of people can be writers, and if we don't fit that socialised expectation, we don't see ourselves as writers. The courses I've designed are intended to be self-reflexive; they're intended to get you to think about yourself in relationship to writing, and consider your own expectations about what you want to do and what you will eventually write. See, the thing is, I know that anyone who has the desire to write, can become a writer. You will even be able to get published, if you want to. But the thing that stops most people who want to write from doing so has to do with self-confidence, and that can change with the right kind of help.
If you need to contact me in relationship to this issue or any other, please do so! That's why I'm here: to help you get started writing; or, if you're already writing, to help you keep it going.
It does seem for many people that the day just comes, a line is crossed, some straw somewhere breaks some camel's back, and there you are: you must finally do it, you must finally say that which has been building inside you this whole time. It's also not that uncommon to come to the writing fairly 'late' in life. There are very clear reasons for this; for one thing, writing is the one thing that requires a fair amount of maturity to do 'well,' if at all, largely because it requires so much self-discipline, but also because writing is not something that wears out with age; if anything, maturity brings perspective, which helps us do all sorts of things. Plus, cognitively, the time right around 45 is when we are typically the most mentally coordinated we're likely to be, so our thoughts, loosely translated from neuroscience, make the most sense and take less time to sort through. So after 40 is when we have the best shot at being what's called a 'good' writer, which mostly involves the ability to write compellingly but also with clarity. Also, you're less afraid once you hit maturity; so what if it doesn't work out? You had to do it, you had to take this risk. If this were a workshop I'd ask each person to write down the story of how they came to writing. Good for you for getting there, though; not everyone does.
I recently started a site on Facebook specifically for writers to give and get advice about writing problems and issues. If you have any questions you'd like to see answered, or advice you'd like to share about writing, please come to the page and leave a comment. If you come to the site and comment or leave a question, I'm offering the PDF of my book "Writing to Persuade" to anyone who'd like to receive it. Thanks, and I hope to see you there!
I am reading The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition, and will be blogging about it at some point. It is has been enormously helpful so far, because I have been massively stuck in one place on my ancient Athenian murder mystery, and this book is helping me see that I never really understood my plot, but is also helping me see how I might be able to get past where I was forced to leave off by virtue of never having understood my plot.
I'm including it here, because if anyone has any books they've read they'd like to make sure everyone knows about, I've included a thread for that, or you can post them here, or you can send them to me at email@example.com to let us know. I'd like to include them in a suggested reading list, and make sure the list is comprehensive, and includes your choices. The only thing I would ask is that you explain why the book is useful to you, and give specific page examples. What I've written is essentially an annotated reading list, so if you can follow that format, that would be the most useful for new readers. Thanks!
Here is a link to a website called "The Creative Penn," created by a woman who is doing some very good things for writers. She seems to be impassioned about the subject of being a writer. She's producing novels, which is nice, but more importantly, from my perspective, she writes a lot, and does a lot, to promote other people's writing.
I just want to let you know that although there isn't a lot of activity on this board, yet, I am now advertising The Collaborative Writer in a couple of places. One is Hope Clark's Funds for Writers newsletter, http://www.fundsforwriters.com/ which goes out to over 30,000 subscribers. The other will be the Northwest Writers Association, http://www.pnwa.org/which is seen by some amount of people, I don't know exactly how many, but quite a few. They've got a conference attended each year by many hundreds of people, and their meetings are always packed, and that's saying something for Seattle. However, their advertising rates are much higher than are Hope's, so I am more limited in my scope there. I try to be cautious and only advertise where I know it will do the most good (plus I spend a fair amount of time trying to maximize SEO, etc., in a very business-like way).
Whether you know it or not, btw, we've also got over a hundred people registered in this board! They just don't say very much, and I haven't yet taken advantage of the email list to send out any kind of newsletter, since in all honesty, I'm still getting my business, The Collaborative Writer, underway. Getting new clients right now, as a matter of fact, which is always nice for the coffers. We continue to put the message out, and if you know anyone who would like to participate, by all means, send them our way.
And please remember that if you have any writing at all you'd like to share, feel free. That includes blogs, poems, even photography, if you're so inclined. The idea behind this forum was to make it possible for people to share their writing without fear of judgement, and/or to talk about stuff to do with writing. I hope you will!
Finally, if you would like to contact me, I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Skype at collaborativewriter (my Skype user-name—just send me a request). I hope to hear from you. I will try to answer back as fast as possible.
I think your post raises some very interesting questions. I did pretty much give up trying to be "myself" within the confines of academia. It became too much of a struggle in various ways. Also, I realised that I wanted a larger audience, and I wanted to write in a different voice. If you're trying to get out a message that academia limits who can think of themselves as writers, then the audience of academia on its own seems pretty pointless.
There's much more of what you said to respond to, but I will keep it short for now and just say thanks for finding this forum. ~Alison
Hedgebrook retreat for women writers is on Whidbey Island, about thirty-five miles northwest of Seattle. Situated on 48-acres of forest and meadow facing Puget Sound, with a view of Mount Rainier, the retreat hosts women writers from all over the world for residencies of two to six weeks, at no cost to the writer. Residents are housed in six handcrafted cottages, where they spend their days in solitude – writing, reading, taking walks in the woods on the property or on nearby Double Bluff beach. In the evenings, they gather in the farmhouse kitchen to share a home-cooked gourmet meal, their work, their process and their stories. The Writers in Residence Program is Hedgebrook’s core program, supporting the no-cost residencies of approximately 40 women writers at the retreat each year.
NOTE: In celebration of our 25th anniversary, Hedgebrook is dedicating our entire 2013 season to Alumnae, placing all new residencies on hold for a year. In other words, this will be your last chance to apply as a new resident until the 2014 season. Our goal is to dedicate 2012 to new residents, and to nurture the amazing talent in our Alumnae community in 2013. The application for the 2014 season will be available in June of 2013.
There's a new-ish website called "Plinky" which might help some people get their writing started, since every day, they provide a new prompt (like a question, or a challenge). I think this might be helpful when your brain really just needs to interact with someone or something in a new or different way. Plus, it's simple to use, and might be fun for you.
Their services include:
Add photos, maps, playlists and more. You can easily share your Plinky answers on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, and most major blogging services. We know you've got something interesting to say. Plinky is here to help you say it in a fun and compelling way.
This is a travel-writing company I receive email from, and on occasion, they send something of use for all writers:
If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, or tales of woe and experience in relationship to getting published, be sure to let us know!
The single biggest way you can increase your chances of getting published is to look at publication not as a single event but on ongoing process in which you'll develop an entire mindset. This is involves a whole set of skills including:
*Visualizing what the editor will think when he / she receives your submission.
*Ability to deal with rejection - The best way to deal with rejection is to submit stories and pitches on an ongoing basis. That way, whether a piece is rejected or accepted, you're automatically sending a thank you note, then you're moving on, ready to resubmit to a different publication or to send a new story.
*Learning from each rejection - Another way of dealing with rejection is to look at each one as part of the learning process. You don't need to dwell on it, but simply ask yourself: Was the story really an ideal fit for the publication? Was the story as good as it could be or could you have done further edits? Was your pitch / cover letter as good as it could have been?
*Continuously researching new and relevant markets - The most obvious way is to search the links page at your favorite blog or magazine. Another way is to study the bios of the contributors at blogs and magazines where you're submitting. What other publications do they mention?
*Always bookmark new blogs or magazines you find that seem like potential markets for submitting. Another trick is to to email the urls of the publication to yourself, labeling those emails consistently or giving a consistent subject to the emails such as "travel writing markets."
*Ability to stay organized so that you are continuously submitting pitches and multiple submissions - Previously we've written about using a submissions log or a submission manager, basically a simple spreadsheet that allows you to quickly view and organize potential markets, contacts, and submissions.
*Understanding the hierarchy of getting published at different websites, magazines, and newspapers, and honestly assessing your position - The more you get published and the greater the readership of each blog, magazine, or newspaper that publishes your work, the higher up you move on the hierarchy, and the easier it will be for you to place work at bigger and better-paying markets.
I've realised that I never really talked about myself before on this site, largely because my focus has been elsewhere, trying to get a business off the ground, and this forum is one piece of it. I always think that "who am I" is pretty self-evident; I am someone who loves writing and books, and anything to do with both. To that end, I just recently opened Bottom of The Box Books, which ideally will become part of my company (because a long time ago, I wanted to open a proper bookstore, and I still might someday, if I can find the right venue for a low enough price...). My first word was 'book.' Apparently, they mean everything to me, but now it has come time to sell many of the books I've had for too long, sitting in boxes, going unappreciated.
So here is Bottom of the Box, via Amazon, because I have a bookshop's amount of books sitting in boxes in my house that all need a new home. These are absolutely beautiful books that I bought and never used. Why. Well, unfortunately, I think if you ask "who is this person," in my case, you have the impulse to buy beautiful books, and there never seems to be enough time to actually read through them. I wish I could absorb the information inside of them by osmosis. If this were the perfect lifetime, I would have all the time in the world to just read, and no one would require more from me than that. I have spent the past 10-15 years collecting books, with the intention of reading them, but my good intentions are paving the way to Hell, it would seem.
I just sold my first book today, as a matter of fact, to someone in South Korea; a book about Egypt, of which I have many, since I went through a "collecting books about Egypt" phase. I don't think I'm going to make much of a profit, unfortunately, but it's either sell them or give them away. I'd rather that some person in South Korea has a book from the States that's otherwise hard for him to find, than letting it sit in one of my boxes.
I rarely enter these... I'm facing my self-defeatist attitude this month! I should enter one. I need someone to give me a push to enter a contest!! Is it procrastination, fear of failure... the self-defeatist attitude that says "oh what's the point, I'll never win one?"
These are the bugaboos I'm up against, folks-of-the-net. What antidote would you suggest?
I haven't tried this company (yet). If I do, I will let you know. So far, I have found the quality of the Create Space printing to be pretty darned good. What I'm curious about is whether this new printing company will let me print the book as it stands from Amazon. If I give that a try, I'll let you know; I really do not want to have to reinvent the wheel just to print some copies.