My first writing project was a novel. It was so bad that my best idea for the title was, The Book. I dragged the story out to the recommended 250 pages. I wrote 33 chapters, plus a bonus Prologue and Epilogue. By the time I wrote, The End, it was like I could finally let it go. I gave it all I had. There were parts I loved, characters I loved, places I could see in my imagination, but it was never going to develop into anything.
Like a heartsick lover, it took me almost five years to take another chance. And like an awakening, I knew what I wanted to write about. I’d write about my life when I was a single parent, raising four children, one of whom was handicapped.
I’m one of those people who like to research and learn about a subject before powering ahead. The first thing I did was take a drive to the Duluth Barnes & Noble store and I bought two books. Memoir Writing for Dummies, and Turning Memories into Memoirs, by Denis Ledoux. I read through each book and highlighted areas I thought would be helpful.
My best creative thoughts would come to me during my evening runs. I would put in my ear buds and let my imagination go. I knew what parts would be important to write about, because the thought of how I’d write it, would make me cry.
It was on October 24th, 2013 when I was ready. The first words came easy. I typed in the title, A Different Kind of Childcare.
I worked 12 hours and 59 minutes on the 1166-word essay. Writing about my perfectly healthy baby suffocating between the crib rail and mattress was heartbreaking. To write about my daily wakeful nightmare, accepting the fact that the lack of oxygen caused my baby’s irreversible brain damage, was painful and depressing. The worst part to write, was when I had to write that I knew the crib screw holes on the posts were stripped out.
Writing about that part of my life brought me a healing and forgiveness that is known to happen through journaling.
I loved my story. I wondered whether others would. I was curious. Was it any good?
My next step was to find out if my writing ability had any promise. Although I wanted to be a published author someday, I was okay with letting the dream go if it wasn’t meant for me.
I bought the Writer’s Market, ‘the most trusted guide to getting published.’ I subscribed to the Writer’s Digest magazine. I searched online for tips on getting published. The first thing I learned about an unpublished writer’s life was, you best get used to rejection. Submit, submit, submit was the solution. I hadn’t had any work ready for submission yet, but knowing rejection was commonplace, was important for me to know. Without that knowledge, I may have given up. The second thing I learned was, send your best work, polished, and free of errors.
Although I saw many recommendations on working with a writers’ group, I didn’t think I’d fit that mold. Artists are generally kind people. If my writing was bad, I wanted someone to tell me that from the get-to, no holding back. I also had the mantra in my head, if you want to be the best, learn from the best.
I looked through the advertisers in my Writer’s Digest magazine. That’s where I spotted the 2nd Draft critique & editing services.
On March 7th, 2014, I worked up the courage, paid the $46.00 service fee, and submitted my essay.
My work was assigned to Carolyn Walker. When I researched her credentials;
Carolyn Walker began writing at age ten, has been a published journalist, columnist and author for more than twenty-five years, and has worked independently as an editor.
I knew I would be working with one of the best. That was, if my manuscript got past the first read.
On March 11th, I got the results. I almost cried when I read the message; Attached you will find my comments on your essay. It has lots of potential. Thank you. Carolyn Walker
I had potential!
Having someone like Carolyn write that abut me was all I needed.
Carolyn Walker, MFA, Author Every Least Sparrow, (Garner Press)