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: http://writerinspired.wordpress.com and http://writelikeCRAZY.wordpress.com.