WMBTSD Giveaway Day Six: September 6, 2007

Well today is a fun day because today we have an anthology! And I know four of the contributors. Yahoo!

Today’s book for September 6th is A Cup of Comfort for Writers Edited by Colleen Sell (Adams Media 2007). The giveaway copy donated by contributor Sage Cohen, who is also the managing editor of Writers on the Rise. Let’s learn a little more about Sage.

Sage Cohen is an award-winning poet whose work appears in more than 30 journals and anthologies including Poetry Flash, Oregon Literary Review, blueoregon.com and San Francisco Reader. In 2006, she won first prize in the Ghost Road Press annual poetry contest. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University where she was awarded a New York Times fellowship. Her first poetry book, Like the Heart, the World, was published in 2007. For organizations including Writers on the Rise and Willamette Writers, Sage teaches poetry writing and publishing workshops. Visit Sage at www.sagesaidso.com and http://sagesaidso.typepad.com.

Cup of Comfort for WritersHere’s the description of A Cup of Comfort for Writers Edited by Colleen Sell (Adams Media 2007): From fiction to nonfiction, poetry, prose, or music, writing provides millions of people comfort. Yet every writer, published or undiscovered, has met many roadblocks-not limited to writer’s block and rejection letters. A Cup of Comfort for Writers shares the stories of more than fifty writers who conquer the obstacles all writers encounter. While all writers are unique, they share the passion, unrest, and joy their craft causes them. You will cheer for the writers in A Cup of Comfort for Writers.

Essays to read first 😉

“Flow” by Sage Cohen

“A New Point of View” by Samantha Ducloux Waltz

“The Queen of Procrastination” by Diana Jordan

“What Makes Me Whole” by Amy S. Mercer

Three cheers for everyone who was selected for this inspiring anthology.

Now on to to our question. I’ll go a little easier tonight. (Just a little though so we can keep things nice and meaty.) 🙂

Here’s the question you must answer to be entered to win A Cup of Comfort for Writers: Go straight to your most discouraging (or discouraged) moment as a writer. Can you describe, not just the situation but also the feeling that went along with it? And then, in the next breath, can you go straight to your most encouraging (or encouraged) moment as a writer and describe the situation and the feeling that went along with it?

Okay, that wasn’t exactly easy. But it does sound meaty, doesn’t it? 50-300 words, please.

If you are new around here, jump on in. Everything you need to know to participate is gathered up right here in “Station Identification.”

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20 Responses to “WMBTSD Giveaway Day Six: September 6, 2007”


  1. 1 Laura September 6, 2007 at 3:44 am

    My most discouraging moment as a writer actually occurred at work. I have been asked to write things in the past from a prayer for the company Christmas party to a funny obituary for a coworker’s 50th birthday. So, I was not surprised when I was asked to write a poem for a coworker’s 40th celebration. I felt inspired, and dashed off a poem that I thought was finely crafted. Feeling pretty confident, I handed it to the party organizer. “Sorry, this won’t do. We’ll come up with something else.” She handed back the poem. I felt heartbroken, like a mother being told her child is not worthy. My confident wavered, and I didn’t write anything for weeks.

    My most encouraging moment happened this past February. I was at work again, sneaking a peek at my home email, whilst working on my daily tasks. I received an email from someone I didn’t know, and almost deleted it. I am so very glad I didn’t! The email was from the copy editor at Guideposts, a magazine I have read since I was a small child. In the email, she said she wanted to publish an article I had submitted, one of the first two articles I had ever sent out. Joy was hard to contain. I was literally bouncing in my seat, as I read and reread the email. Waving a copy of the email, I rushed to my friend Sharon’s cubicle. Dragging her into the break room, I told her what happened. She was so happy for me! During the rest of the day, as I sat in cubicleville, trying to work, I had to suppress the giggles. I felt validated as a writer. I spent the rest of the day saying to myself, “I AM a writer!”

  2. 2 marnini September 6, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Hmm, most discouraging moment. About a year ago I sent out a query letter and three chapters of a middle grade novel to three editors I met at a Meet The Editors Day.
    I received personal rejections from two and the third never responded. After about five months I sent a letter asking if she received my ms(no response was given). At eight months I phoned her and left a message asking that she respond either way (I did include a sase when submitting). Still I never heard from her-it’s been just about a year now. I know editors can be extremely busy and I could sympathize with having an overload of work. But to think you take all of your time preparing a package to be sent to them (Because they said at the Meet The Editors they would accept unsolicitated ms from all who attended) and for this person not to reply at all was very disheartening.
    Most exciting moment or hopeful. The SCBWI sponsors monthly writing contest and a while back I placed runner-up. My poem was on their website. This was a gold medal to me, because the SCBWI is the largest organization for children’s writer’s and illustrators so I considered it a feather in my cap.
    You can still see my poem on their site. It’s under the Secret Lives Of Children contest.

  3. 3 Kelli September 6, 2007 at 8:22 am

    My discouraging moment was as a young poet. I submitted 3 poems (one written in the style of ee cummings) to “National Important Magazine X.” Not only did “N.I.M.X.” reject me, but the editor wrote a handwritten note on my rejection saying, “Only famous poets can write in lowercase.” I felt terrible (I mean, who knew you had to be famous *before* you could write in lowercase!) 😉

    I didn’t submit to “N.I.M.X” for years. But their rejection had only made me try harder, a sort of “I’ll show you” or “success is the best revenge” attitude. Finally after about 5 years, I submitted to them again. They accepted my poem and apparently with no memory that I wasn’t famous.

    Kelli

  4. 4 Donna McDine September 6, 2007 at 9:14 am

    I was involved in a critique group that I was initially excited about, but after participating in several sessions may hopes for a positive experience washed away. Even though the group is made up of talented writers, I began to wonder my place in it. Each time we held a critique my piece would be the last read and received little time from the group, while the others received a substantial amount of time for review. Since I’m new to the group and to writing I was a little hesitant at first to voice my concern, but when it occurred additional times I tried to voice my opinion, but made no head way.. I decided at that point that this particular group was not for me. I began to internalize this negative experience and began to wonder about my abilities as a writer until the day I met and developed a mentor relationship with a seasoned writer. Her advice to me on the day I was feeling overwhelmed by my responsibilities of motherhood and writing career she shared with me the following advice: “Don’t worry about your writing so much….your girls are young yet and need you…your time for writing more and more will come sooner than you think…just try to write something – even if it’s an email or a letter to somebody, or even a journal entry – every day to keep your skills up, and also read, read, read children’s books in the genre you hope to specialize in….the rest will come in due time. I think you’re doing great! :-)” These simple words of advice via our email lifted my spirits to a positive outlook. I keep these words of advice tacked up along side my monitor to read each day even if I’m not discouraged.

  5. 5 Pattie September 6, 2007 at 9:36 am

    My most discouraging moment was when my on-spec article for a popular Christian women’s magazine was rejected, with absolutely no explanation as to why. Was it the writing? The subject matter? The length? Me? I had no idea, but I took it completely personally and to this day have not rewritten nor resubmitted this article for publication, even though the story needs to be told. I felt sad, horrible, awful, and small when I read that rejection letter.

    My most encouraging moment was when I *was* published. A short piece I dashed off in a fit of creativity was published in a now-defunct Writers Digest specialty magazine. I was even paid $25 for it! I was thrilled from the top of my head to the tips of my toes to see my name in print. I felt like I could do anything!

  6. 6 edna September 6, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Most discouraging moment: Reading a one-and-a-half page personal rejection letter of my PB from an editor I’d met through my then agent. The editor welcomed a resubmission bur even as a newbie, I realized I had to scrap major themes from my story and start all over again. Feelings: Overwhelm, disappointed, floundering–I felt lost on how to proceed from there.

    Most encouraging moment: Getting *that* call from an editor who wanted to buy my PB which was a completely different MS from the first one eight years ago. A dream come true 🙂 Feelings: Ecstatic, amazed, grateful, a pinch-me-is-this-really-happening, floaty sort of feeling.

  7. 7 Megan September 6, 2007 at 10:22 am

    My most discouraging moment as a writer did not come with a rejection letter as many do. I was actually trying out a literature class a couple of years ago. I had been published quite a few times in my local newspaper, online magazines, and regional newspapers throughout the country. I felt pretty confident in my writing skills; so in this class, I worried more about being the oldest student amongst a sea of 18 year olds! To my dismay, my essays kept coming back with grades of C’s and D’s. When I talked to my professor, she said, “I can tell you have a good understanding of the literature we’re reading, but you just don’t know who to write. Why don’t you run down to the writing lab and get some pointers.” I was stunned; my heart stopped, and pain like no other caused my throat to close up; I could only squeeze out a weak thank you as I quickly left her office. For some reason, that hurt more than any of the many form rejection letters I had been receiving for my commercial writing. I have since learned that analytical writing is much different than the kind of writing I do for magazines. Once I learned the intricacies of that style, I performed much better in the class.

    My most encouraging moment in writing came with my copy of my first published article in a high-circulation regional parenting magazine. A check came with it, of course, but seeing my name printed on the top of the page followed by my own words filled me with joy. This was an affirmation of my talent and I knew that I was on the right track with my writing career.

  8. 8 Shawn September 6, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Well, I worked in newsrooms for more than eight years so I’ve had more than my share of discouragement. I recall the most devastating was working on a project for about a year, writing it, going through edits from about five different editors and being two days away from print when the WRITING COACH finally had time to review it and ripped it to shreds with her little red pen.

    As for most encouraging moment … hmm. That’s a good question. I think blogging has brought those to me more than anything. That’s when I sit down and just write from the heart without any worries of deadlines or grammar concerns. And, lucky for me, I have been getting a lot of “you’re a great writer” comments. Those build me up and keep me going most of all.

  9. 9 Renee Roberson September 6, 2007 at 10:46 am

    My most discouraging moment happened early in my freelance career. I sent snail mail query to one of the top parenting magazines, only to receive a response a few weeks later of the worst kind. It was a photocopy of a photocopy of a stock rejection letter, addressed to “Dear Writer . . .” I could just picture a bored intern stuffing the letter into my SASE and I felt so discouraged that a real live editor hadn’t even seen my idea.

    I’ve achieved local success with our daily newspaper in the city I live in, and now work as a dining columnist and stringer on a regular basis. I pitched a story idea on a local artist, and they chose it as a section centerpiece story. Both the editor and another reporter both e-mailed me after it ran to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I was so flattered because they work at the paper every day and cover lots of amazing stories. I’ve received many compliments from the staff on my freelance pieces (many have been centerpieces), and from other editors. Those are the moments that make my job worthwhile.

  10. 10 Mary Jo C September 6, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I think one that stands out and actually stopped me from writing for a few years happened in my first year of college. My English Rhetoric teacher was scathing in his comments of my work. First assignment was to write our personal creed, in which he accused one of my paragraphs as being plagiarism. I was insulted and angered. I am not a cheat; I wouldn’t even write papers for my friends or boyfriend at the time. And I’ve never stolen a thing, especially someone else’s words! Ironically, it was two other English teachers I had met outside of school that pushed me to begin writing again.

    My most encouraging and joyous writing moment happened a few months ago in my writers’ group. I had been submitting and reading non-fiction essays on how mamahood changed me. One night, I brought in and read the beginning chapter of a fictional story. In complete contrast to my sweet mommy stories, this piece was edgy with raw dialogue and a gritty setting, my true voice! The critique was amazing, inspiring and exhilarating! They “got” what I was trying to portray through my characters. It was enough motivation to turn this story into my novel-in-progress!

  11. 11 Rose September 6, 2007 at 11:19 am

    I saw a paragraph in braille on one of those gas station baby changing tables the other day. That’s what it feels like when I’m having my worst writing moment. Like I’m changing a diaper blind. What I’ve put down on the page is a mess and I’m trying to clean it up and make it make sense. I panic.

    But, at some point, if panic doesn’t turn into procrastination, a small miracle occurs. If I get over my self doubt and fear and keep writing, the mess is transformed. And sometimes I am too in the process. It might not be beautiful. I might still be blind. But it’s enough to keep me going.

  12. 12 Tiffany September 6, 2007 at 11:21 am

    I write quite a bit about health dangers for families and corporations that put profit and greed befoire safe products. I find it discouraging when readers, who are obviously attached to thes eproducts, feel I am being an alarmist or I am part of some cultish conspiracy theory group. I work hard at writing to inform people and I do a lot of research so it bothers me when people think I have anything but the best intentions.

  13. 13 brainymama September 6, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    My most discouraging moment came last spring when I received a rejection letter for a creative nonfiction piece I submitted to my college’s literary magazine. When I originally wrote the piece, I really thought I was “inspired,” that the muse had truly visited me because I had completed the piece in a feverish flurry and even shed a few tears of joy over it.

    About a month later, I attended a writing conference where the winning author read her creative nonfiction piece. As she read her work, it was immediately apparent to me why her piece won and mine didn’t. Knowing the judges were in the audience, I squirmed in my seat and covered my name tag hoping they wouldn’t identify me as the writer of the pathetic, substandard piece they had rejected. I learned a lot about myself that day. I’m glad I tried, though and feel that I have a better understanding of what I can improve on next time.

    My most encouraging moment is actually going to happen in two weeks when I will have the opportunity of reading a different creative nonfiction essay at my college that was accepted for publication with Literary Mama. Last spring, I took a creative nonfiction writing class at my college and perfected a piece I wrote about the angst and ambivalence of motherhood. When my professor handed it back to me at the end of the semester, she encouraged me to submit it and wrote on the manuscript, “This WILL be published!” When I finally got a very encouraging acceptance letter from Literary Mama, I could hardly wait to tell my professor that she was right!

    P.S. Could you link my blog to my screen name? My blog address is brainymama.wordpress.com/ Thanks!

  14. 14 Linda Harris September 6, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    My most discouraging time as a writer/editor: I was working for a Christian newspaper. My boss was normally kind and easygoing. But when he had a flareup of gout, watch out! Twice he fired me when in one of those moods. The second time was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. A dark day in history and in my life.

    My most encouraging time was just recently. I attended a writers conference and spoke to four editors about my book proposal. The first two said, “Sorry; not for us.” But the other two were enthusiastic and wanted me to send the proposal electronically. It’s been nearly 3 months now. I’ve heard back from one publisher; the proposal has been through the first round of evaluations and they’re still looking at it. So I’m filled with hope and excitement.

  15. 15 Meryl K. Evans September 6, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    I decided to push boundaries in my writing career and accept an assignment with a news site where I’d have to collect an original quote from at least two sources within three hours. Not once did I make it within three hours in spite of my best efforts to e-mail and use the relay service like crazy. I can honestly say I made more relay calls in one week than I had in one year — heck maybe even two years. To boot, the editor said my work required too much editing.

    For an encouraging moment — I write two monthly columns for a tech magazine and one of my columns became a feature in one of the issues. It was a delight to see special graphics around the article rather than the run-of-the-mill images that I submit.

  16. 16 Rhianna Finnegan September 6, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I’m a very green writer, so luckily I haven’t been to awfully discouraged yet. I think some of the statistics are so discouraging, though and that has definitly gotten me down. I am readins all the archives of the Miss Snark blogs and how she chooses and doesn’t choose her authors blows me away. It can be something so minute that makes them pass on your blood, sweat and tears. I haven’t starting shopping my novel yet but I know myself and know how discouraged I will be when I recieve (the inevitable) rejections. My Most encouraging moment (I have had SOOOO many) but this particular one was when I was seventeen. I have always wanted to write and when we FINALLY got a home computer (I grew up in the mountains, as a matter of fact my parents just got satellite this year, so technology was about fifteen years behind)I set to work on MY first novel, about a teenager who is pregnant and runs away. My Dad, who is a huge Tom Clancy and the like fan, said to me one night in passing, ‘I can’t wait to see what happens next’. My dad is not a huge encourager. I carry those words with me to this day, eleven years later, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

  17. 17 Lea September 6, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    I’ve hated writing poetry ever since a college professor made me read a rough draft of a poem to the entire class. I don’t like sharing any writing I do until I feel it’s as good as it gets, so to share something so rudimentary to about 50 people was my own private hell. I seriously thought about making a run for the door, but instead I mumbled through it, my cheeks on fire and my stomach twisting into a tight little knot.

    I am always encouraged when I read other writers’ success stories because it reminds me to keep writing and submitting. I know at some point the acceptance letters will out number the rejections!

  18. 18 Kathleen Ewing September 6, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    For a year nad a half, I had been writing between four and six feature articles a month for a start-up regional magazine when the editor told me they were going to cease publication. I tried to console myself with the fact that she had paid me for all the articles I had sent her. But that still left me with an empty feeling in my stomach. I was losing a paying gig!

    Two months later I queried a new national market and sold them on a small article, just to test the water with them. A month later, I had a contract for a major feature which paid almost as much as I had gotten for all the articles for the regional. I was ecstatic. A feature–with photos–in a national magazine!

  19. 19 Kathy September 6, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    A few years ago I took a writing course that was part of a larger conference and my name was chosen out of a hat to read my own work at the dinner being held for all conference participants. As an emerging and unpublished writer I was thrilled. I was basking in the glow of positive and constructive feedback from my class that week and was ready to share my writing with a larger group. I could not get through it. I had written about my experiences as a new mother and cried through my entire reading. I felt humiliated and pathetic and, as I drove home bawling, could not see a future for myself in writing.

    A few years later I received my first acceptance letter and a few short (okay, eternally long) months later I received my copy of the magazine with my very first published piece. I felt invincible, strong and capable. I felt like a writer.

  20. 20 Beth K. Vogt September 6, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    My most discouraging moment: A crippling case of writer’s fright.Not writer’s block. I knew what I wanted to write. I had an editor asking to see my proposal and my first three chapters. She’d even said she was excited about my idea. I had been excited about my idea. I had every reason to be writing like a mad woman.
    And nothing.
    Nothing.
    Nothing.
    For weeks and weeks and weeks.
    Until my writing comrades in my writers group, Inkspired, looked me in the face and said, “WRITE SOMETHING. ANYTHING. WE DON’T CARE HOW GOOD OR BAD IT IS. JUST WRITE IT AND BRING IT NEXT WEEK.”

    My most encouraging writing moment: I was at writers conference two years ago. The speaker was talking about pursuing your passion and living your dream. And I suddenly realized I was living my writing dream.
    I was writing about things I cared about. I was submitting articles regularly and getting published. I was writing honestly. I had a book contract.
    I sat there amongst hundreds of other writers with tears in my eyes and thanked God that I had the privilege of living my dream–the good and the bad days of it.
    It doesn’t get any better than that.


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