Friday Speak Out!: Embracing The Writer in You, Guest Post by Karen Mae Zoccoli

Friday, January 24, 2014
So here I am, writing an entry for Friday Speak Out, not feeling very qualified but nevertheless thought I would give it a shot. As a pre-published writer of picture books, I am guilty of holding back. I battle with that little voice that taunts me— I’m not good enough, too old, not qualified, lacking the education, etc., etc. But, lucky for me, I’m stubborn as all get out. When I want something, badly, really really badly, I may just never quit. And I think that’s the mentality writers have to have. It’s knowing that you write because it’s just who you are.

On the flip side of this, I make it a practice to envision the feeling of being published, visualizing one of my stories becoming a reality and seeing it sitting on the bookshelf all shiny, new and magical! I feel awestruck by lively illustrations, but more than that, I feel moved by the expressions of the young reader. That’s really what drives me—envisioning that smile on an eager face, wide eyes immersing a child, laughter, touching a heart. Making that connection, that’s where it’s at for me.

So I’ve kicked off the New Year by doing a few things. Getting better acquainted with Twitter. It’s a great place to find info and opportunities with other writers, agents and editors. I’ve also put together a dream board, something I have always wanted to do but never seem to have the time (I used Oprah’s online app—fun and easy, mine’s here at kz2014). More importantly, I have gotten over my fear of being seen. Isn’t that odd? To be afraid of being seen? But it’s a real fear for many of us who perhaps are shifting gears mid-life to embrace the writer in us. Our friends and family may not know this part of us. It can be scary to show it to them. We all know people who would just assume squash you like a bug rather than see you shine. Keep yourself away from negative people, from the naysayers.

As women, we often put our dreams aside. I like to think that our dreams, however, never forget about us. Whatever your dream is, protect it, embrace it! Show up in life as your authentic self. Someone else might just be waiting for your inspiration, your example.

So what does all this mean? For me, it means I keep writing, keep working at my craft, keep connecting with others, finding blogs, contests, webinars, workshops. SCBWI has been a great professional group to be a part of. My writer’s group is a place to be seen, to be heard, to be vulnerable. I actively seek out my ‘tribe’. All of these things add fuel to my fire, driving my passion and improving my writing, and help me push forward. Will I make it to publication? Anyone’s guess. But I know I may never quit. Because at the end of the day, it’s just who I am.

* * *
Karen Mae Zoccoli grew up in the valleys of central New York state and now resides in Connecticut with her family and loyal dog Buster. An admitted late bloomer, she is working towards making her dream of writing for young children a reality. Growing up in a divorced home on welfare, she believes, has helped her with her writing. “Difficult situations can force a person to see things with new eyes and find their inner strength. It helped me to see the small things, to observe the spaces, the little details and nuances of life, that others might overlook.”


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Unknown said...

Thanks, Karen - for voicing the fears of many 'pre-published' writers. I feel exactly the same. It's scary putting yourself out there. Like you, I have been "afraid of being seen," but I am taking the plunge.
Got my first rejection today,and you know what? It felt good! I feel like I've earned the right to call myself a writer.
Thanks again, and best wishes to you. Hope to see you name in print soon!

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by Kim and for your comments! And congrats on your first rejection, you are on your way!

Cindy L. Rodriguez said...

Great post, Karen! It's easy to set aside our dreams because of the lack of time and doubts. But, Langston Hughes's poem makes clear that nothing good happens to a "dream deferred." So happy you're going for it full force. I'll be rooting for you and I'll also be there at your first book signing!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments, Cindy. Now, I am going to go look up that poem!

Margo Dill said...

Karen: Congrats on NOT giving up on yourself, which is so easy to do--especially at something as difficult as being a picture book writer (It is much more difficult than people realize!). Also glad to see you mention SCBWI--LOVE this organization! Keep dreaming!

Renee Roberson said...


You express a lot of the same nagging doubts that I have, too, in my own writing career . . . but it sounds like you are taking great steps to counter those doubts! You just have to keep setting goals and looking on the bright side of things. Thank you for sharing all these positive changes with us today! I went to my first SCBWI conference this past year and was overwhelmed by all the support I received there from fellow writers:)

Unknown said...

Thanks Margo & Renee - I appreciate your comments!

Beverley Baird said...

As a late-bloomer myself, I so enjoyed your post. Embracing that dream is so important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

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