Friday Speak Out!: Reclaim Your Writing Life

Friday, September 08, 2017

by Kathryn Schleich

As almost every author knows, a writer’s life can suck. The rejections pile up, and you start to doubt your abilities, and whether you possess an iota of talent. With over 100 rejections for one book alone I wrote less and less, until I wasn’t writing at all.

What inspired me to make fundamental changes in my writing life? Bluntly speaking, my age and health. I’m pushing 60 and have Crohn’s disease. The painful side-effects from the medication often served as just another excuse not to write.

No one knows how much time they have, but I made a conscious decision that if I was going to write, it was now or never. I dusted off several short stories, found an editor willing to work with me through WOW, and got published twice with interest expressed in a third piece. With my confidence bolstered through being published, I’ve written eight new stories and completely reworked my novel.

Here are tips that helped me reclaim my ability to write and may work for you as well:

• Pay attention to a publisher or agent who offers specific suggestions to improve your work. Just one publisher taking the time to give me feedback on my novel set me on the path to reworking it.

• Don’t be afraid to take risks. Last April I participated in an Author’s Guild sponsored auction and won the chance to have my manuscript reviewed by an industry professional. This September I’m heading to New York City to meet with him.

• Take another look at some of those old stories. If they’ve already been edited, find another editor to read your work. Different perspectives and encouragement can send you in a new and better direction you may never have considered.

•Research potential markets carefully when submitting your work to contests or publications to be sure they are a good fit for your work. Too often, I haphazardly entered contests that weren’t the right match.

• Find a way to deal with the barrage of rejection, so you can rise about it. For example, I have found it cathartic to experience the act of shredding paper rejections or the satisfaction of hitting delete.

• Maintain notes on all agents queried, but particularly those who reject your work. This puts you more in control. Some examples: an agent that makes time to write a personal note is someone I will contact again with future projects. If the rejection is a form letter, the chances of further contact diminish. And, if the letter is copied many times over, that agency won’t be queried again.

• Find what inspires you, continually hone your skills, and keep writing!

* * *
Kathryn Schleich is the author of two editions of the book, Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers and Other Images, which evolved from her master’s thesis. The self-published work was a finalist in the 2012 Indie Book Awards. The first edition was used as a textbook in the Religious Studies Program at the University of South Carolina beginning in 2007.

In May 2017, Schleich’s short story, “Grand Slam,” was published in
The Acentos Review and Zimbell House Publishing featured her story “Reckless Acts” as part of its After Effects Anthology this August. Schleich also writes non-fiction articles on women in film, collecting antiques, women’s heart health, Crohns disease, and the environment. She is currently seeking agency representation for her mystery/suspense novel, Salvation Station.

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!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Kathyrn--Thanks for this post. I especially appreciate the suggestion of keeping editors' responses on file.

Good luck with your manuscript in the future.

Margo Dill said...

These are great tips! Thank you for sharing with us what works for you. Good to "see" you. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for encouraging us to take risks. It is so easy to stick with our comfort zone and not recognize when we need to branch out.

Beverley Baird said...

Thanks Kathryn. I am where you were. At 65, I feel like my writing is over. My husband's ill health the past few years has been my excuse. But you've given me some needed tools to help get back to writing.

Angela Mackintosh said...

What an inspiring post! I'm so happy for you, Kathryn! Getting published is a huge boost of confidence. I truly believe there is a market for every style of writing. We just have to keep looking and working at it. Thanks for the excellent tips! :)

Renee Roberson said...

What an inspirational post! I guess at 41 I need to keep pushing forward, eh? Thank you, Kathryn!

Mary Horner said...

This is really good advice! Thanks for sharing!

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