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Saturday, September 16, 2017

 

What's Something You Wrote About That You Never Thought You Would?

When I decided to pursue writing as more than just a hobby, I was set on writing fiction for kids. Short stories, poetry, novels, picture books--whatever a kid who loved fiction would read, I wanted to write. I was naive and didn't understand how the writing world worked--that nonfiction sells better, that if you want a paycheck as a writer, you might have to write something else.

One thing I did right was find a critique group of writers who did not just write for children, who wrote essays, articles, adult novels, romance, horror, and more. I began to dabble in nonfiction and short stories for adults, and guess what? I was having fun! I didn't give up my dream of writing fiction for kids, and I did publish 3 fiction books for kids and teens; but I also expanded my portfolio and wrote about some subjects and for some publishers that I never thought I would.

So as I was coming up with a blog post tonight, I thought: I wonder what some of the Muffin readers and writers have written about that they NEVER THOUGHT THEY WOULD. I'm curious what your story is, how you got there, what you thought at the beginning of your career, and how it turned out in the end--and how you feel about that.

For example, I worked as a stringer for The News-Gazette in Champaign, IL, and I had a Sunday book review column for over five years. I never dreamed in a million years that I would do either one. I wrote about a 90+ year old garage sale volunteer, a reindeer ranch and a baby reindeer who survived only because she was bottle fed by the owners, and a beaver dam that was backing up a creek in a little bitty town--but there was nothing the people could do because the beavers were protected. I wrote a villanelle about the Trail of Tears and got it published, as well as a funny romance short story for adults that won first place and $250 in a magazine contest.

And my point? I am a much better writer because of these experiences.

Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a brand or stick to a genre or build a career as a certain type of writer. All the advice you read about that is true. But I think it's also okay to have a wide variety of writing in your portfolio and grow from these pieces.

So...what have you written that you never thought you would? 


Margo L. Dill is an author, editor, writer and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. Read her blog at margoldill.com or sign up for her novel writing course in the WOW! classroom

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Juliet Nubel said...

Thank you for this piece Margo. As a blogger I tend to stick to a chatty, humorous style but recently I wrote a fictional piece about a man drowning his wife. I don't know where that came from! But it was great to branch off into something completely different.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Thanks for sharing, Juliet! It is strange how things come up and I think it is important to get those down on paper, even if you don't ever do anything with them!

6:02 AM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--First of all, I imagine you are a better nonfiction writer BECAUSE of your earlier fiction writing. If you can create a compelling story via novel writing... if you can craft wonderful image-filled phrases as you write your historical fiction--you can write moving nonfiction.

I wrote TWO romance short stories (even though I never read the stuff) and the second one got published in an anthology. Also, I didn't think I was a fiction writer until I wrote my first piece of fiction... and I enjoyed it.

You are right to nudge us. We need to step out of our box on a regular basis. How will we know we like it until we try it? (As a teen, I thought I hated crab rangoon--even though I had never tasted it. Years later, I took one bite and fell in love. I guess I'm lucky it took so long. Otherwise, I'd be dragging around even more padding than I am. ;)

6:12 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Sioux:
I am also a lover of crab rangoon and I like how you compared trying new foods to trying new things in our writing. :)

12:59 PM  
Blogger Mary Horner said...

I think writing these stories helps us understand that there are interesting stories everywhere, and opens us up to new ideas that we may not have thought about!

8:05 PM  

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