The month of February was filled with a few speaking engagements and I have to admit, speaking to people about writing (especially other writers) is a wonderful feeling. I started out with the Sacramento Suburban Writers Club. I spoke about publishing and the perspective of an editor. The group was filled with a variety of experience levels, so I touched base on a few things that I thought would pertain to everyone.
I discussed the importance of editing and reading the submission guidelines. Nothing turns my inner editor off like receiving a submission with spelling and punctuation errors or seeing that the author didn’t pay attention to the submission guidelines. These are simple things that will make or break whether we initially even look at your submission.
Another big topic that sparked a discussion was whether or not to submit for free. Here are my thoughts: You have to start someone where. If you want to be a writer because you want to be rich, good luck. Let’s be real, the odds are not in your favor. Sure, it is nice to get paid for your work. You spend endless hours looking over each sentence. You want to get recognized for your effort and time, but you have to have readers first. And the way to get readers is to get your stuff out there for people to read. In the beginning, I suggest submitting wherever, whenever you can. Don’t worry about getting paid, worry about getting published. Also, I would advise trying to find places to submit that do not have submission fees. It can get a little pricey if you are submitting often. Pick and choose wisely. Remember, you will be rejected. Hang those rejections like badges of honor. Even if you don’t get published the first or twentieth time around, you did it. You sat down and wrote something and sent it off for other eyes to see. That is a feat in itself.
The last thing I’d like to highlight from this meeting is creating a media presence. As we know, the internet is a powerful tool. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. reach out to more people than we can imagine. If you want to be read, want to be known, this is a powerful tool. Create a blog or Facebook page or an Instagram or all three and tie them together. The more people you can reach, the bigger the following you will have. Even if this doesn’t generate a following in the beginning, it gives you a space to share your writing with others. Start small. Invite your family and friends to join you and ask them to share with others. It’s easy and it’s free.
Check out the Sacramento Suburban Writers Club at:
A few weeks later, I found myself at West Sac’s River City High School and spoke with a Creative Writing class.
I spoke with high school students about my book, Pieces, the creative writing process and answered their questions. They asked me some of the following questions:
1. What is your writing philosophy?
2. Where/how do you research for a story?
3. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Who knew I would be stumped by high school students? It was difficult to find a concise answer for these questions, but I did my best. Here are my answers:
1. Keep writing. And reading. A good writer continues the practice of writing always and forever. You keep working your craft, reading other writers, learning new structures, taking away from others that are doing what you love and even learning from the things you don’t necessarily love. No one lies when they say practice makes perfect. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect in your own way (not some kind of standard set by someone else).
2. If the topic is something technical, I read about it. Go to the library. Research online. But most of what I write comes from living life. People watching. Interacting with others. Thinking deeply about things and discussing them with friends. My whole life is research for my writing.
3. The same answer as number one. Keep writing. Practice, practice, practice. And read as much as you can from all genres. Find your own voice.
4. Usually life experiences or my other interests. For instance: fairytales. I am fascinated by the narratives of fairytales and how they have lasted for so many years. How they shape art and life. This comes to play in my writing. And nature. I love being out and in nature. A lot of my stories happen outside. I don’t think about much. It just happens as I write. Everything I consume becomes a part of me and leaches out into my writing.
Those are my answers, what are your answers?
Of course, after I answered all of their questions, I gave them fliers for From Sac. What better way to get their feet wet than to submit with us for the first time?