Monday, December 16, 2013

More than Luck

It’s not happenstance that I get published a lot. I work on it.

I don’t head out the door for manicures, pedicures, hair dyeing, shoe shopping, or over –the-top lattes. I write. I don’t work out at the gym, hit tennis balls, or twist myself into a pretzel in daily yoga classes. I spend my discretionary time researching markets for the writing I do the rest of the day.

According to any practical soul, I should be de-cluttering, mopping or dusting; instead, I read books on the writing craft. Other women with adult children spend oodles of time texting, e-mailing, phoning or visiting their grown offspring. Rather than being in constant communication with the outside world, I spend that amount of time recording on my excel spread sheet what’s sold, what hasn’t, and what I’ve given away just to see it in print somewhere.

In other words, friends, luck has little to do with my getting published. Determination and grit are the attributes needed to succeed in seeing your writing in print somewhere other than on your own computer screen. What I want is to be read by someone who doesn’t know me and has never heard my name before.

I wish I felt the passion for lifting weights I do for writing. Then, I’d be thin and muscular. I wish I enjoyed a Martha Stewart persona. Then, my living room’s décor would be worth a cell phone picture. I wish I thought my advice and listening skills were more valuable to my adult kids. If I were sure I wasn’t wasting their time yammering to them on  a cell phone, maybe I’d  bother them more; ahem, I mean communicate with them more.

The truth is we only have so many minutes in our day, and we have to decide on how we’re going to use those minutes. We can’t be all things to all people. I admire folks with a green thumb and a myriad of house plants, but I’m not dedicating more than six minutes per week to my yellowing tropical fronds and my pitiful African violets.  You get what you pay for, and you reap what you sow

The reason I place pieces as often as I do is that I try to place them. I stay aware of markets. So, how do I pick up tips on where to submit my outpourings?  Dave Letterman has his, and here’s my "Top Ten List":

  2. C. Hope Clark’s Total Fund for Writers; Bobbie Christmas’s newsletter
  3. Craft Magazines (Poets & Writers; The Writer; Writers’ Digest) I subscribe to these.
  4. Membership letters (SEWC, NCWN, Carteret Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, TAF) I’m a member of all.
  5. Bios of fellow freelance writers which appear in anthologies
  6. Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide (I own the book.)
  7. Writers’ Market (I own the tome.)
  8. Writers’ Conferences (Instructors mention places to submit.)
  9. Magazines I read: regional, travel, women’s.
  10. Writer friends

The Irish say: "Nodding your head doesn’t row the boat." So, talking about wanting to be a published writer is only that---talking. Less talk; more action! Be like the heroine in The Hunger Games. She speaks little but aims her bow a lot and aims it at the dome!  (Spoiler Alert!)

~~ Erika Hoffman

Erika Hoffman began her writing adventure eight years ago when she became confined taking care of her elderly dad with dementia in her own home.  The first piece she wrote was fortunately accepted by A Cup of Comfort for Families affected by Alzheimer’s and other Dementias. She learned about this market because she attended the Harriett Austin Writers Conference in Athens, GA. Since then, Erika has published many nonfiction narratives, but still has flights of fantasy where she dreams of publishing a whodunit!

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