“I’m going to take a creative writing course,” I told my husband.
“When does it start?” he inquired. “I know how much you’d like that.”
At last at age fifty-two I was getting serious about this. Most of my life I’d dreamed of becoming a published author. The time never seemed right to pursue my goal. So I satisfied my yearning by being an avid reader.
Getting a late start has been my experience. I got married at forty, adopted a baby at forty-six and gave birth at age forty-eight. Motherhood is fulfilling for me. But I still had my dream of getting published.
Again I was back in school at midlife. An experience I found exhilarating. I wanted desperately to learn the craft of writing because I had an inspirational true story that I knew would be helpful to someone else. This motivated me to attend my first class that autumn day. During the course I was introduced to the basic steps in the writing process, and I learned how to use them. With the help of a class critique, I worked on my story readying it for submission.
If I thought writing would be easier than being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling, I soon found out otherwise. Anyone who writes knows it’s hard work. I wanted to be a professional writer nonetheless. So after many rewrites of my story I submitted my manuscript to a national print magazine and waited. I felt that I’d accomplished something. I’d actually sent my work off.
I joined a writing/critique group for mothers who combine parenting with writing. Here I found new friends with a common goal of becoming more professional. We read one another’s work and offered helpful criticism and suggestions for improvement.
I became better informed about publishing and marketing my work through writing groups, the Writer’s Market, other “how to” publications and from just the experience of submitting. The Internet and e-mail became invaluable tools. I slowly realized that writing for publication required a commitment of time, perseverance, organization and actually learning by working at it. I had some success in small non-paying markets. But I wanted to write for larger publications, too. This wasn’t happening yet.
As the months went by, I learned to carefully read each prospective publication and to study their writer’s guidelines to determine what they wanted and the preferred way of submitting material. I realized the necessity of carefully following these instructions. I discovered how to submit a brief but detailed query letter to interest an editor in my work.
I tried not to take personally each rejection, but to see it as part of the writing process. I kept a list of possible markets for each manuscript. On occasion an editor would write a few encouraging words or useful suggestions on the letter. This was always an encouragement and provided an incentive to persevere. After each rejection–and there were many of those–I would rework, refocus and send the piece out to the next publication on my list. I became a better writer in the process of redrafting my piece. Anticipation is always a driving force. I discovered that not only moms, but writers live in the future.
Eventually, after numerous submissions I found an editor who was thrilled with my first piece and wanted to publish it and pay for it.
This was such a boost for me–not only did she love my story, but she praised my writing. And I now had a published clip when querying or submitting to other paying markets. Since then I’ve gained more confidence, and my work has been accepted by other publications.
My husband built a web site for my writing, I joined a professional organization for fiction writers, attended conferences and completed an historical inspirational novel.
I realize that more of life’s experiences and the inspiration that my family provides enables me to be a better writer. Gaining a family and learning the craft of writing has made life more fulfilling. I’ve discovered that with God’s help and guidance, it’s never too late to realize a heart’s desire and never too late to learn and to grow. I know my boys and husband enjoy seeing me writing at the computer, too.
“My Mom is a writer,” I heard my son tell his friend.
Pat Jeanne Davis lives in Philadelphia, PA. To learn more about her and her writing, please visit: http://www.patjeannedavis.com/