December Sell-a-bration #18: 2008 Was My Year of Success

By Mary Jo Campbell

Each January, I would sum up the theme of the year before in a singular word. But, I realized I was going about this all backwards, naming the year after the fact. I needed to decide what I wanted the year ahead to hold for me and name it accordingly. So, 2008 was dubbed “The Year of Success.” I decided to manifest what I wanted to happen instead of being a sponge that absorbed my circumstances.

First, I applied for and won the Writer Mama Scholarship, not on my first shot, however. (Never give up!) I learned about non-fiction writing: tips, lists and fillers—more than all of my previous college writing courses provided. The friendships and contacts I gained through the class was an added bonus.

Learning the art of the list article and how to tighten my writing proved successful when I landed my first byline in MOMSense Magazine (a MOPS International Publication.) “42 Ways to Play and Pamper” even made the cover and was highlighted on their website that month!

While I pursued the “short stuff,” my 9-year-old son derailed my focus. (Kids tend to do that.) He was hungry for a social network of writers his age and persuaded me to start a volunteer program at the library hosting a young writers’ workshop. Since I needed to add a volunteer project to a grant application, I thought, “kill two birds.”

But, what did I know about teaching? I so nervous for my first class, I made two wrong turns just getting to the library I visit weekly. After four solid weeks last summer, I fell in love with teaching and the kids fell in loving with writing! I was asked to continue the series at the library as a monthly workshop throughout the school year.

From the library stint, I was invited to teach a Saturday series through a non-profit organization, for pay! The program organizer happened to be the mom of two of my summer students. So, this fall I taught a Young Writers Workshop through Friends of the Gifted and Talented. I took the kids through the challenge of NaNoWriMo.

That experience gave me the opportunity to interview a NaNo representative, who posted a link to my blog on their site. My blog received 208 hits in one day. One Day! Prior to the interview, I had about 15 visits total. The interview resulted in another article, which appeared in Hope Clark’s Writing Kid Newsletter.

I’ve been asked to return for the winter session of FRoG and added a Publish Me! class where young writers will learn about markets, revision and approaching editors.

2008 has been a very successful year. I learned that sometimes, despite fear or lack of experience, you just need to jump. You may encounter scratches and bruises, or you may just fly!

When Mary Jo Campbell isn’t playing Ninja Warrior with her two sons, she can be found offering encouragement to writers on her blogs: and


11 Responses to “December Sell-a-bration #18: 2008 Was My Year of Success”

  1. 1 writethejourney December 18, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Mary Jo,

    Congratulations on a great year! You definitely have a gift of encouragment–young writers, colleagues and even yourself. Thanks for laying out your successes for us and for the great idea of labeling the coming year. Hmm…I’ll have to think what I’d like mine to be.

    Let us know what you end up labeling 2009!

  2. 2 Wendy Gregory Kaho December 18, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Mary Jo
    What an inspiring philosophy and the pay-off was great.Congrats! Doing the NaNoWriMo with a group of teens jumpstarted my writing career, too.
    Working with kids who don’t have that noisy inner critic was such a delight and some of it rubbed of on me in the process.

  3. 3 Erin Goodman December 18, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Wow! What an inspiring post to read this morning. Thank you Mary Jo. Congratulations on all of your MANY successes!!!!


  4. 4 hi kooky December 18, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Wow. Now that’s inspiring. What a great example of resourcefulness, persistence, and courage. Kudos!

  5. 5 Elise December 18, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Mary Jo,

    Wow. What a fabulous year you have had. You have inspired me! As I read your post today I realized that working with young (Pre-K-5th) kids is what I want to do. I am an Early Childhood educator by degree and love to write. I am completing a book about the RV sabbatical my family (husband and two kids) took 2006-07 and then I can think about other goals. Your post has spurred me to think of my next goal early! Thanks for your ideas and congratulations on your successes of 2008. I would love to pick your brain about how you actually got the ball rolling…

    Much luck to you in the New Year and have a wonderful holiday season!


  6. 6 Luci December 18, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Mary Jo, that is so incredible! I would most definitely call 08 successful for you. Your hard work, focus, and diligence certainly paid off. Continued success to you!!
    Hugs 🙂


  7. 7 Mary Jo C. December 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    What great comments from everyone! Thank you. It’s encouraging and inspiring to see how little ol me can inspire others. Paying it forward!
    Elise – I’d definitely let you know what tips worked for me, check out either of my blogs for my email..
    Thank you ladies!
    Mary Jo

  8. 8 Jennifer December 19, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Way to go, Mary Jo! What an upbeat and lively essay. Can I borrow your idea and make 2009 my year of success? (I’ll give you all the credit if it works!) I am also so inspired by the work you are doing with young writers. Talk about paying it forward. What a big deal that is!
    Here’s to continued success in the new year!


  9. 9 Donna McDine December 19, 2008 at 6:27 am

    Congratulations on a fantastic year…our children without knowing always seem to have a way of inspiring us. Congratulations!

  10. 10 writerinspired December 19, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Jennifer: Of course you have a Year of Success and give yourself the credit if it comes to fruition!
    Donna: You’re so right. I think we’re so busy trying to mold our children, we overlook how they are molding us!

  11. 11 Donna McDine December 19, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Mary Jo…thanks for visiting my blog. We certainly do seem to live similar lives. Best wishes for a successful 2009!

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