Sunday, May 20, 2012

Milestone~Forty Years of Writing!

I was digging around in a box of old writings I had--yep, kept stuff from way back--trying to find an older story, and didn't realize the germ of the idea was something I'd written in 1979, for a creative writing class I took in college. I graduated from high school in 1972, but I didn't get my 2 year degree until ten years later in 1982. This piece I had written in 2001, and tried to publish it--but got rejected. It's called "The Unholy Devil", it was a short story about Rasputin--one of my favorite historical figures.

I am a prolific writer, and when my father died, and I had to clean out things that I had left there from the 1970's thru the 1980's, I discovered whole drawers full of my writing. I brought back one box and 3 large paper bags filled with paper--all with my writing on it!

I had to get rid of most of it, some of it was pretty bad. I don't know how many pages this could have been. But piled up it would have probably reached my chin. Novels of my fantasies (non-stop, in the beginning written on Gregg lined notebooks) about the Beatles and me. Other fantasies that might be considered sci-fi, adventure, and LOTS of poetry.

I was an artist turned to a writer. (My 2 year degree is in art.) When I took a creative writing class in my senior year in high school, and took it again (with teacher's permission), I realized I could put down a story in writing much faster than my little cartoons. So, when I was near the end of my senior year (looking forward to not being in school), I told my English teacher that I wanted to become a writer/author. She told me that I would be better off doing something else because my spelling and grammar was terrible.

Can you imagine? She pointed this out, and thank you for that, but she said nothing about my writing abilities. So, in my last year of college I was pleased to see they had a creative writing course and I took it (because I did not quit writing just because someone told me I couldn't spell). Mind you, this was years later, and I had continued to write and tried to work on those areas of spelling etc.

The creative writing teacher in that college class was much kinder. He encouraged us all. Me too! I had a terrible time with teachers who chose to ignore me because they thought perhaps I was a lost cause. I couldn't learn. I had trouble. Duh! I'm dyslexic, come to find out (not until I turned 40, did I figure this out about me).

So, back to this piece I was scrounging around for (and my re-writing of it will probably publish/put up somewhere). Inside the file folder, with this typed up manuscript (2001), I found the ORIGINAL yellowed paper, typed up on two pages. I had dated it April 1979? (the question mark, because I wasn't sure). The title was Father Gregori. It was very different from the story which came from it, but my teacher very lightly circled misspelled words in red, made little notes where it was "good" and one where a line was "vague". At the end he wrote: "Good character sketch - clear conflict - I see this as one scene of a longer story - needs expansion so that the reader has time to develop certain attitudes and expectations"

I wish I could remember this teacher's name, but it escapes me now. He was a writer, as well as an English teacher. Soft-spoken, red hair, and I remember he had this way of wetting his finger to turn pages on the inside of his bottom lip. I remember after that year he was moving, his wife had some sort of military job and he was taking time off to write. He was published in various small publications--which he had given us addresses of and encouraged us all to try them. Which, of course, I did. My first piece was published in ByLine, which back then was not as tough to break into, and allowed people who were just starting out writing to be published. I remember being thrilled about it. I had a few other things published in ByLine over the years, but that first piece had lifted my hopes.

Aside from the writing classes, I did join a writing critique group in 1983-84. I learned much while there, saw one of our members get a contract with Zebra for her historical novel (which thrilled me beyond measure).
After that experience, I took time off from writing, but always had to come back to it. I could not stay away from it. When I did, I missed it. I realized something after a 4-year time away from it (while working on my crafts), that nothing else gave me the sense of accomplishment that writing did.

With that said, you must realize it has taken me all this time to have a novel accepted by a publisher. I joked that I would paper my walls with the rejections slips. When I reached my 40's it seemed like a string of dreams crashed every time I got a rejection slip! By age 50, I decided I'd had enough and would self-publish. The new age of Internet was what brought me around to this. But you still had to pay someone to do this. Now, anyone who has the ambition can publish a novel, short story, etc. How times have changed. I'm still not certain for the better. The jury is still out on this one, because a lot of bad writing is put out there, along with the good.

As for me, I need an editor. I may self-publish my original Spell of the Black Unicorn, again, which is back in my possession and I do want to re-work it and try and put it out on Amazon or somewhere. At this point, if I make a little money, it's fine. For the last 3 years I made $1.79 (not sure how that happened, as the book was for sale at $17.95) from that book, after having made all of my $400, and a little bit more that I had paid them.

So, maybe you could call me the writer who never gave up. I'm like Harry Potter--the boy who lived. I survived those decades, did not give up. I saw times when a writer could still approach a major publisher w/o an agent, and now, you need no agent, no publisher, if you don't wish to go through that headache and heartache.

So, you now know I do know the struggle of getting no where, spinning my wheels, coming up short and wanting to throw out my writing, and give up.

DON'T GIVE UP!!!
I sure didn't give up. I may have taken breaks, which allowed me to come back fresh and excited about it, and things keep on changing. For the better or for the worse, I don't know. I only wish I had had the chances some of you have now. You would wait months to get some manuscript back from either a publisher or an agent back then--only to have to try the next one. That was the only thing I gave up on--traditional publishers and agents.

7 comments:

  1. this was great!
    I loved this, so interesting, funny, clever and honest.
    You have writing at the core of your being and it's obvious.
    Funny how we learn and grow and go on the way we do.
    That box was your dreams in there and you're able to follow them now.
    Great!

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  2. Congratulations! What a fantastic accomplishment, to be writing for so long. I love that you never gave up. That is the key after all! I remember a special teacher who helped push me as well. Wish I could thank him personally!

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  3. ~Carole, thank you. And I think you are right. A box of dreams~ dreams I never gave up on.

    ~Heather, thank you. We all need that person to help support our efforts no matter what.

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  4. Great post, Lorelei!

    I had a writing teacher who really encouraged me along as well.

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  5. Thanks, William. Teachers need to be supportive for fledgling writers to feel they have talent, and want to make a go of it.

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  6. Yes. I agree with Sir Wills. Great post! Nope. I'm not going to give up.

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  7. GOOD! Thanks for stopping in Shelly.

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