Monday, February 14, 2011

The First $50, or SQUEEEEE!!!

As most of you know, I am now in my mid-thirties and have finally started to write, something I have always wanted to do. 

Why so late?  I've started and stopped a dozen novels, some of which I think were actually pretty good ideas, always sure that whatever I was writing was pure garbage.  Clearly, I've had some real self-esteem issues.  Last year I hit the wall and realized that I was just not happy with the way my life was going.  I was unhappy in my job and that was just the start.  I had managed to complete a novel the year before for Nanowrimo and, stinker though it was, I had had my first taste of success.  I started writing another novel in the spring of last year and you know what?  I actually think I have something there!  I'm still in the process of editing it, but it's coming together. 

In the meantime I realized how much I enjoy writing, and one day I sat down and googled "How do you become a freelance writer" which led me to a site called "About Freelance Writing".  I read everything carefully, followed some links, set my butt firmly in front of the computer and got started. At this point I've published a few articles online and I've sent out some query letters to magazines.  A couple weeks ago I got my first actual rejection letter and, instead of feeling awful and, well, rejected, I actually felt initiated, like I was now officially a member of an exclusive club. 

The best news is, this past weekend I made my first $50 off something I had written and I don't think I've ever been prouder of myself (okay, I exaggerate, I was prouder when I gave birth to my kids -- but it's pretty close!).  But to know that what I am doing is actually valuable in the real world is magical.  It opens up so many doors and possibilities.  Every time I see a piece of this coming together, my mind gets blown all over again. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What I'm Reading -- Lemon Cake Edition

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake  by Aimee Bender

This was a book club selection, probably one that I would have missed had I come across it on a shelf in a bookstore.  That's kind of sad, because I give it a wholehearted "two thumbs up."  The premise is unusual and interesting.  Rose Edelstein, at age nine, suddenly discovers that she has a strange new ability.  She can taste her food in a way that nobody else can.  She can discern where the ingredients in the food come from, all the way down to the address of the factory that made the pasta, but more importantly, she can taste the preparers' emotions and the secrets that they hide. When she eats her mother's cake and tastes the intense sadness and longing that are hidden inside, her life changes.

The thought that stays in my mind after finishing this book is:  What would Rose taste in a meal cooked by me?  I know what I hope she would taste -- love for my family and friends, enjoyment in a good book, humor and fun.  But I wonder if the worry and fear would come through stronger?  Would there be an undercurrent of depression with a seasoning of hysteria? Would she turn away in disgust at the jealousy and hurt that might come through?

So my question to you.  If Rose, who can taste your secrets, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, was eating your most prized dish, what would she taste?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Playing the Writing Lottery

When I first began trying to get this ship off the ground, my mind felt like it was trying to force rusty gears to spin.  Ideas were coming slowly and unreliably.  I figured, I've got all the time in the world!  No worries, this will happen eventually.  But secretly I was afraid that the well would dry up and I would find myself staring at a blank screen, my jaw open, maybe a line of drool running down.  Lovely picture. 

What I'm finding instead is that the more I write, the more the ideas start to flow.  I can start on one topic and little tangents start springing off and going this-way and that.  I notice this a lot when I write the articles.  This topic leads to that one, and this to that other and so on and so forth.  Since I can track what people are searching for when they find my articles, I can use that for inspiration, too. (In fact, if the well ever truly does run dry, I'm going to hit those lists for ready-made topics.)  One of the best places for thinking of ideas is work (hee hee).  My mind wanders and the what-ifs start to happen.   I love typing that first sentence and watching and seeing where it goes. 

I've spread out a bit more, too.  I currently have five queries floating in the ether.  I'm sure to most professional writers that's a joke, a drop in the bucket.  But for me that's really exciting!  And that's the lottery, right there.  Any one of those could hit, or they all could flop.  When you play the lottery, you don't actually play to win.  You play for the chance, that one shining moment where all the stars align.  You know full well you'll most likely never hit the lottery, but my god, it's fun to try.  I don't expect any of those queries to land.  But you know what?  I don't care!  It's fun!  I'm playing for the game! I'm watching my hits slowly creep up, hoping that what I've written helped somebody in some way, even if it's just an idea for dinner. 

I'm also hopeful that inspiration will hit and I'll come up with a brilliant idea for that elusive short story.  I know it will happen sooner or later, but in the meantime I'll follow all of these leads that I've managed to accumulate.