Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Life as a Writer

PROMISE ME that when I tell you about my life as a writer, you will NOT pitch this great new book idea that you think I should write and split the profits with you. PROMISE!!! It's that kind of reaction that makes writers lie about their work.

Stranger: So what kind of work do you do?

Me: I'm a ... uh ... er ... um ... telemarketer; yeah, that's it! You wanna buy--"

Stranger: No, thank you! (walks quickly away)

Me: (wiping brow) Whew! Dodged another one!

As I clearly state in my profile, I'm not the famous kind of writer, a la Nicholas Sparks or John Grisham. (They don't want your book idea either; trust me. You are going to have to write that baby yourself.) I write every week, I get a regular direct deposit, and I don't have to tour the country promoting my work on TV and radio or in autograph sessions. I'm in educational materials for grades K5 through high school. I write anything from nonfiction articles to scripts to poetry, all with an educational bent. I love my job! I've been employed in this manner since July 2002. I was able to buy a house in the fall of 2007. Life is good.

I also accept assignments from Union Gospel Press. Specifically, my niche is sets of 13 fictional short stories to be used in Sunday school take-home papers for children ages 9-11. They are published in quarterly format, thus the need for 13 stories. It usually takes me three months to complete a set of stories. Payment comes in a lump sum. I couldn't make a living doing it, but it's a nice bonus to collect a few times a year.

I did have a monthly grammar tips column in a secretarial e-newsletter, but I've had to let that go due to time constraints. There's hope that I can start that up again when my life settles down.

I also write a sporadically/monthly homeschool column for Christian Online Magazine. I've been writing for them since 1999, I think. Again, time constraints sometimes leave me with nothing for the month!

I self-published a book a few years ago before I appeared as a guest speaker at a South Carolina homeschool convention. Here comes the sales pitch! Confessions of a Single Parent Homeschooler is part personal testimony and part homeschool survival tips. This book has practical encouragement and suggestions for ALL homeschooling families, with special uplifts for single parents. I've been homeschooling since 1997, and since 1999 as a single parent.

A copy can be yours for $12.50 if you go to www.hopeunlimitedforyou.com, and click on "online Store" and then click on any "C02" button you see -- that will take you to the order page, where my book's cover is displayed in thumbnail form. (It is located at the top of the list of books for sale - s/h included.)

Enough of that! I also have an unpublished mystery, so if you are an agent or publisher looking for a great new mystery author, you found me! LOL! I called my book Corpse in the Courtyard: a Covert Caper or something like that. The manuscript is around here somewhere ... I haven't looked at it in ages. I went to two mystery writers conventions years ago and had a great time, but I didn't get any great leads. Furthermore, finding an agent or publishing house willing to so much as read a synopsis is like finding a goldmine in my deep freeze. (So far, nothing but ice!) Nicholas Sparks got a boat load of rejections before someone finally read The Notebook and decided to give him a chance! Maybe I gave up too soon ...

I much prefer writing my little educational lessons and collecting a regular paycheck for my efforts. I just think it's incredible that I get pitches for stories other people would like me to write -- after I've explained that I make a living writing short lessons and worksheets for schools to use! One fellow told me I could set that stuff (that pays my bills) aside and work on preserving history -- at no pay until the thing sold, mind you. I have enough ideas of my own, thank you, and I have no desire to write anyone's biography or the history of the North Carolina mountain people. Seriously. It's not my thing. Besides, I NEED to collect pay checks in order to keep my house, eat, simple things like that. You understand.

Of course, I fantasize about having a life outside of writing, but I often work seven days a week. I'd like a life that contains more than short breaks from work to take my teenage daughter to voice class or youth group or church or the chiropractor. Photography is another passion of mine, and it's one that my daughter also shares. I enjoy playing with cats, reading, site-seeing, decorating for holidays, and visiting with friends -- when I have time. SIGH. My daughter's desk is next to mine in the office so that I can oversee her lessons while I'm doing paywork. Paywork is the #1 priority of a single parent. Nobody else is going to make that mortgage payment for me, not to mention paying for cable, utilities, food, gasoline, clothing, dental, and so on. I must keep writing to survive.

Speaking of paywork, I hear some lesson ideas calling out to me. I'd better heed the call before they move on to some other writer and leave me with writer's block!

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