So Now it Begins…

I received my study materials from the Writer’s Digest School yesterday, for the ‘Writing and Selling Nonfiction Articles’ course. I’m going to apply myself to this course the way I did all my other courses when I was working toward my bachelor’s degree.

Thankfully, I finished reading ‘Cold Mountain’ last night. It had a tragic, but not an altogether unexpected ending. I read a couple of dozen entries in the ‘Paris Review’, but returned it to the library this morning. The Cussler novel will have to be on the back burner for now. I’ll read a bit of it here and there as time dictates.

My focus now is getting to work on the lessons. In addition to the coursework binder, I also received ‘The Writer’s Market Online 2003’, and the Writer’s Digest ‘Handbook of Magazine Article Writing’. I’ve begun reading the handbook, as it is requested in my introduction assignment. I also need to complete a Profile Questionnaire. The questionnaire serves to pair me up with a professional writer and mentor – one that most closely matches my style and interests – for the duration of the course.

In addition to starting out on my own education towards becoming a published writer, it was also the first day of school for two of my kids: Heather and Sarah. Sarah had her first day in Junior High, and Heather started her journey through High School! I can’t believe how quickly it’s come upon us. I mean, I still remember my own high school days. It just doesn’t seem that long ago. Time is slipping by entirely too quickly.


On the Night Table…

This entry has taken longer than I intended. No excuses – just plain laziness.

I have posted my first article to Red Paper – under Infomaniacs. Today I found that someone purchased a copy of the article. I have made my first $0.25 cents as a writer.

Books I’m Reading Now:

‘Cold Mountain’ by Charles Frazier.
This is a modern literary work from 1997. I have been reading many references to it as of late and decided to pick it up at the library. This is a well written story and I highly recommend it.

It’s the story of a man, gravely injured during the Civil War fighting for the Confederate cause. He deserts the CSA and goes through many reversals of fortune trying to make it back to his beau and his home in North Carolina.

The story also revolves around the man’s love interest Ada. Her life of privilege in Charleston is interrupted by the war. She struggles to learn what it takes to survive on her own and run a small homestead farm in rural North Carolina.

‘The Paris Review: 1953 – 2003’. It is the 50th anniversary of this quarterly literature review magazine of world renown. The book is a compilation of the best articles, essays and short stories over the last 50 years. It covers topics from drunkenness to death, love, war, sex, madness, dinner, baseball and the art of writing. There are many excellently written pieces in this book and I recommend it.

‘Atlantis Found’ by Clive Cussler.
I used to read Clive’s stuff when I was in my late teens and early 20’s. I picked this up as a hardcover remainder at B&N. It’s like reading a junior version of a Tom Clancy novel mixed with some James Bond exploit cheesiness. Still, Cussler knows what it takes to draw you in and get you turning pages. It is an entertaining read if you like “guy’s stuff” type of action/drama stories.

Where Will You Be in 5 Years?

We need to look at our lives in terms of a longer view instead of the just the “right now”.When it comes to difficult tasks – many of us look at how long it’s going to take to get through it and not the end result.

The feeling usually takes on a whiny quality: “Jeez, it’s gonna take me five years to earn a degree. With that time I could be earning money and getting out and having fun instead of working and going to school, doing homework and term papers.”We approach many personal long-term tasks this way. However, ask yourself a more effective question: “What’s going to happen in 5 years from now if I don’t do it?” the answer always is, “I’ll be five years older and no closer to the life I dreamed of.”

When we get fed up enough and finally get moving, we do well at the task and wish we’d done it sooner. Most of us are world-class procrastinators. From now on, look at life with a long term view to do what you feel you’re supposed to do, in order to get where you want to go.

Looking back 10 years ago, it wasn’t hard to envision what life would be like with the actions I was taking at that time. I was going to school and knew I wanted to get my degree, to get out of a nowhere job, to do something more and better. I did all of that and ended up where I thought I might.

So now, I’m looking five years into the future to see where I want to take my life and go for it.

If you don’t work toward the future we want: You’ll probably still be in the same spot,   doing similar work, commuting, tired, uninspired, with no sense of accomplishment, no sense of making a difference and still unhappy with the direction of your life and your work. Pretty much on a treadmill of sameness to Nowheresville.

What you can envision your life to be like five years from now can be enthralling.

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write
things worth reading or do things worth writing.”
~Benjamin Franklin~
1706 -1790, US Inventor, Statesman, Printer

Out of the gate like a shot.

I signed up for the Writer’s Digest School course:

‘Writing and Selling Nonfiction Articles’.

I should receive the materials in 2-3 weeks and will get right to work as soon as I get them.

The momentum is there, I need to keep the fire inside burning brightly to bring my efforts to fruition.

This is getting interesting.
[Editors Note: The Writer’s Digest School is now Writer’s Digest University offering online only courses]

A Time for Change

In school, I always wanted to do well in math, but for some reason, it never took hold in my head. Throughout high school and college, my English grades were always better than my math grades. The thing is I didn’t care about my English grades.

Through the years, people said I told good stories and that I should publish them. There were more than a few times people suggested I write a book about my experiences. The editor of a regional newspaper, who was once my instructor in college, told me that I should consider taking up writing as a profession.

The senior editor of a regional newspaper, was once my expository writing instructor in college, told me I should consider taking up writing as a profession.

A business writing coach taught a six-week course at work. He told me I had a talent for writing. I couldn’t see it as I stood there holding a paper crazed with red-penciled editor’s marks.

When the course completed, the writing coach told my senior manager – that of the 34 participants in the class – I was the best writer of the group. This included several departmental managers. I was shocked, but then felt a sense of pride by this announcement.

There have been many indicators in my life telling me I should become a writer or get into the publishing business. Why am I fighting it? Making a living as a writer or publisher is time intensive, tedious and hard. My qualitative side doesn’t see the sense in putting in so many hours and effort into a project that may or may not pay. If it does pay, often it comes out to less than minimum wage. However, my creative side yearns to reveal itself.

[That has all changed since 2010. Making a living as a writer now is more of a possibility than it ever was back when I wrote this. I also no longer have that qualitative feeling about the time-cost benefit. I now write because I enjoy it and it’s something I want to do.] 

So why do I want to get into the writing and publishing business?

Because I have to.

The way I see it I don’t have a choice. No matter what direction I take in search of my ‘niche’, my profession, my passion – I somehow always come back to writing.

I’ve looked into doing many different things, but no matter how solid the opportunity I never made a go of it – simply because it’s not what I’m supposed to do. I’ve spent a good part of my life pursuing all sorts of interests while doing a job that is not in alignment with who I really am. It comes down to a lack of motivation. I don’t see that what I do makes a difference. It’s not meaningful, or lasting. There’s no legacy – which is important to me.

I’ve wasted a lot of years not getting very far in my current career and the outlook for the future isn’t rosy either. Unless I decide to change things.

I can waste a lot of time on the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s of life, but there’s no use bitching about it. The past is gone, and the future has yet to be written (pun intended). I still have a job bringing in a decent salary, and I am definitely better read than I was twenty years ago. Therefore, the decision to pursue “the writing life” is on.

I have a pretty good idea of the direction I’m going to follow. I’m going to feed my passion for writing and focus as much attention as I can on the craft and industry. This will help get my name out there, make associations, and build relationships with other writers.