I recently chatted with a writer about becoming published, and the process of story-editing, and she suggested I should make a business out of helping people on their journey as authors. While I appreciated her thoughts, I wasn’t sure I had the right stuff to help others. But then, I reviewed what I did this summer in the ‘world of author’ and realized I am being asked to help others on a regular basis, so maybe there is something there…
I have been a frequent supporter of a few writing contests (as judge) and have been asked to take on one more this Fall. In judging contests, I am reminded of where I started and how important it was for to me to have contests to enter: they helped me to write to a deadline and possibly a theme, and they encouraged me to put myself out there as a writer. I always say with a contest, “Even if you don’t get picked, it is still possible you were fourth place!” That thinking helped me accept ‘rejection’ if I didn’t get anything in the contest, which further prepared me for the writer’s life!
I also enjoy reading contest entries because I see what works and what doesn’t work. I get a sense of what editors notice in first pages of one’s poetry or fiction – how important it is to grab people’s attention from the start! The greatest part of reading these entries this summer was the quality of literature and the enjoyment I got from their stories. Authors are readers, too, but when we have a busy year (two books at two publishing houses, at once) we may forget the importance of remembering the joy readers get from our books – that should always be front and center!
Another author-related challenge I accepted this summer was to help a few folks with their manuscripts (poetry and children’s lit) and that helps me to think about editing in my own work. All of this fuels my writing in terms of literary skill and I believe this translates directly to my works-in-progress. We learn from each other and when I was at the beginning of my writing career, I was part of a writer’s group where we critiqued each other’s work. This experience taught me a great deal about editing and seeing one’s work from another person’s perspective. We have the whole story in our heads/heart but some of those details may not make it to the page – do our readers get the full sense of the story we are telling? Or do we need feedback to see what parts are missing in the manuscript?
Finally, I also connected with writers (in person and online) around all types of things and being a part of a writing community inspires me! I enjoy #amwriting and #author tweets. I see myself in beginning writers and love encouraging them. I learn from seasoned authors and I enjoy honoring their successes! I do believe all of these endeavors enhance my writing and give me pause to think and to celebrate!