Monday, September 10, 2007
Find Your Striker
I’m one soccer mom among many. I’ve been cheering kids on for eight years this season. But I’m proud to say I’m a civilized one. I don’t yell at kids when they err or shout critiques across the field. I do know a few “back-seat blabbermouths” though. I’d like to muzzle them.
Being well-mannered is easy; we just focus on the positives: the good efforts, the tricky foot maneuvers, head shots, dribbles, saves, and dashes down the field to shoot a goal (whether successful or not). The plays we’re not expected to focus on are those weaker ones that make us cringe and stifle comments--the half-Charlie-Browns where the cleat completely misses the ball, the oooh-that-player’s-leg-deflected-the-ball-into-her-own-goal mishap, the keeper’s foibles when the ball gets by and rolls slowly into the goal, or any general human error. Everyone makes them, and kids on the field feel far more dreadful than the highly-paid Beckhams when they mess up.
Being a soccer parent is a lot like being an editor. In the same way that we might cheer kids forward on the field to shoot for the right goal, editors want to cheer writers forward in their work, whether they’re submitting queries, contest entries, or full submissions. We never want to discourage anyone from joining a team or playing through the toughest times. When we ask for submissions here at WOW!, we ask that prospective freelancers study the ezine to gather a sense of our voice, our focus, and our monthly themes. I think that’s the universal request in other markets. No one would ever say, “okay, take that manuscript and just shoot for all the markets, simultaneously. Eventually, one will end up on the right desk”; of course not!
All writers have days where submissions and queries “make goals”; but we also miss the target markets at times. It matters little whether a writer has many years under her pen or keyboard. What matters most is that writers never give up, never stop moving toward their personal, professional, and other goals. Sometimes, though, we need to step off the field for a water break, a walk, a day off, or a full fingertip-and-muse recharge. At some point, chocolate just isn’t enough.
Scrimmaging with kids is a lot like sending our work out. Each one of us looks down the field (researches market guides), figures out the best path to take (locates the name of a specific editor to whom we might address a cover letter or query), and passes the ball (written work) straight toward the correct striker (editor) who will then take a written work and shoot it straight for the goal (target market). Sounds simple, here, right?
It’s sometimes easy to overlook all the possible markets. It also takes time to research the markets. Every writer needs to check out submission guidelines and pay attention to any tips provided by editors, no matter where we’re at in our careers. I sent my last piece out in a huge rush, so it came back fairly quickly. If only I’d taken the time to research a better goal, I wouldn’t have ended up reading a rejection notice with a hand-written note, “Please continue to keep us in mind!” Well, I can’t be mad at any other players. I can only cringe at my poor aim. Is there such a thing as a “writer’s cheer” or a poem?
Would any of you like try to write one? I’m not a poet. But I enjoy reading them from time to time.
Cheers to each of you for taking the time to shoot for the right goal!