Sage in Sausalito, California
Archive for January, 2007
Well, success at last. Check this out: two puppies sleeping in their kennel while Samantha is at pre-school and I am working. (!!!)
Sorry, naysayers, but I knew I could do it all along. 🙂
Got naysayers? Repeat after me: I know I can, I know I can, I know I can…
Not to say that we have achieved Nirvana around here, but when you are used to managing your writing with, in my case, your kid, your work, your husband’s somewhat erratic schedule, and everything else, the idea of folding in more responsibilities seems doable because it all comes down finding your rhythm.
A holistic attitude doesn’t hurt either. I like win-win-win because it means what is good for everyone involved. In my family’s case it would be win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win (and that’s just for the creatures with legs).
I’ve been working on my writing rhythm for seven years. I’ve learned how to balance it with the ups and downs of motherhood and a family. And now…puppyhood. Times two. Can I do it?
Of course, I can, silly.
Not perfectly, of course. But certainly so it’s all manageable eventually. And that’s what moms who want to write are always going for, right? Go for manageability. It’s good enough for today. Things come together when you know they can.
Bottom line is this: you can do anything you set your mind to. Today I woke up and said, “I AM the alpha dog.”
Who’s in charge? Me. Not the puppies.
I will get my work done, even if the puppies are yipping in the background because they haven’t gotten used to their kennel and the new routine. We’ll figure it all out. But I’m the alpha around here. I’m setting the routine, gradually and as it becomes apparent to me.
It’s a process and amen for that.
But I’m in charge. There isn’t anybody home right now but me…and two sleeping puppies.
Who’s in charge of your writing career?
When I was asked this question about our pups, I wasn’t exactly sure.
Neither seemed much more “alpha” than the other.
However, the two of them have busted out of their pen twice already today.
Apparently, I need to be the alpha dog.
You gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. 🙂
But look how sweet they are…
Christina: What was your writing and revising process like for your recent Christian Science Monitor essay, “Maybe being different isn’t so bad”?
Abby: The essay started out as an entry for my blog, http://diaryofanewmom.blogspot.com last March when I was 6 mos. pregnant. With several of my entries, I had the intention of turning them into stand-alone essays that I’d try to get published elsewhere. For this one, the blog entry was the rough draft, and then I revised the essay as I tailored it for different markets. I submitted versions of this piece to the Washington Post, Women’s Health, and a Writer’s Digest contest before selling it to the Christian Science Monitor. They wanted it cut down by about 300 words, which I did. And by that time I’d had my baby so I had to modify the ending a bit!
Christina: What do you now know about what it takes to break an essay into the CSM that you didn’t know before?
Abby: CSM has very clear writers’ guidelines which usually come as an autoreply to submissions. For instance, this was the response I got:
[Our essays] are first-person, nonfiction explorations of how one responded to a place, a person, a situation, an event, or happenings in everyday life. Tell a story; share a funny true tale. The humor should be gentle. We accept essays on a wide variety of topics. At the moment, we are looking for more first-person essays on gardening, travel, parenting (your personal experiences, not just advice for someone else), home, family, and food (including, if it’s pertinent, a recipe. Word count should be less than 1,000 words. Essays of less than 450 words are always needed, and there’s a current need for essays of 800-950 words.
For the record, I have submitted several essays to them in the past that didn’t sell.
Christina: Any general advice for moms who are trying to get their essays published in paid markets?
Abby: Tailor your essay for your ideal market. As much as possible, mimic the subject matter, voice, and headlines of the essays they publish. No matter how good your essay about your newborn is, it won’t sell to a magazine that’s targeted to moms of preschoolers, for example. Similarly, if a publication runs 500-word essays, they’re not going to make an exception for your 1,200-word masterpiece.
That said, I will often end up with 3-4 versions of an essay — different lengths, different leads — and modify them slightly each time I send them out to fit that particular market.
Also, if you’ve got a good idea for an essay, go ahead and write it even if you don’t have a market in mind. I have dozens of essays sitting on my computer that I periodically dust off and send out again, perhaps tweaking them slightly or updating them with a more timely lead or ending. I have sold essays years after I wrote them. Fortunately, many essay topics don’t have an expiration date.
Thanks for visiting Abby’s blog! Tell her, the WM sent you!
Have you lost your minds?
M & D
Don’t ever take me into a pet store, close to my daughter’s birthday, and then look up at me with big brown eyes (in this case, my husband’s) and utter the words, “But I LOVE her.”
Because I will say something like, “Well, then we may as well get two so they can keep each other company.”
What??? THAT was practical?
And here we are. Not just a book coming out in thirty days (mine). Not just Grease, the musical, to mount over at the high school (my husband’s show). Not just a trip to Israel for A WEEK (my husband’s brother’s wedding). But puppies too?
No, seriously, we didn’t have enough going on. Much better now.
Last words to my husband, “Don’t EVER take me into an orphanage.”
From a poster-in-progress called…
How to Use Tiny Scraps of Time to Carve Out a Writing Career
Declare your right to write
If you don’t already have a little “you time” during the day that you can use for writing, work it out somehow so you can steal an hour regularly. The idea of taking an hour here and there to build a writing career gradually is not going to ruin anyone’s life (though it may require a household adjustment in the short run).
Remember, you are the queen of your castle, so rule it. 😉
Inquiring minds want to know: Do you feel like the queen of your castle already or not? Share how you feel with other writer mamas by posting a comment…