Sunday afternoons

It’s Sunday–a day of rest (at least, I try to stick to that general concept)–and I’ve taken the afternoon off to follow my muse. no errands, no to-do lists, no should’s or have-to’s allowed. I drift wherever the moment takes me.

Usually, the moment leads me to paper in some form: something already written or something to be written.

The wonderful thing about starting to make a living as a writer is that people pay you for writing. The difficult thing is that writing then inches into the practical area of your life. It can become work. It can lose its glittery magic.

Sunday afternoons, I get a chance to remember writing as play…as a love affair…as a treasure found in stolen moments. It’s a time to pull out that writing book I’ve been meaning to read (Page after Page, by Heather Sellers) and scribble through the exercises. It’s a time to lie blank-minded in the hammock until a new story idea forces me to move so I can jot it down.

It’s a time to be still, waiting to know what I want to do with a few hours’ free time–and to take delight in the discovery that, after all these years, what I most want to do is write. With a splash of reading for seasoning.

:) Cheryl

Summer endings and beginnings

Summer’s coming to an end where I live. The weather’s still gorgeous–more gorgeous than it’s been, in fact, since the temp’s decided to quit setting record highs. But school is right around the corner, school year programs are starting back up, and we’re busy with those last minute preps we make every year just before life kicks back into high gear.

I have mixed feelings about the turn of months this year. I’ve been enjoying some lazy days without schedules, when I get extra time with kids and books (and a new puppy! Hurray!) I’ve been enjoying the weather that permits long evening walks and bike rides, often ending with the lure of our local ice cream shop. (What can I say? My family works for food….) In between the lazy days have been plenty of busy ones when the kids went to camp and I went to the local coffee shop to dive into the latest writing project. In many ways, I’m not ready to click life’s metronome up to a faster speed.

But…but, at the same time, I’m looking forward to cooler weather, the thrill of acting (I play a continuing character in my church’s children’s ministry), donning wool shawls, burning candles with spicy autumn scents, crocheting long fuzzy scarfs. And I’m looking forward to spending more time on the projects of my heart, the books and stories that don’t have an immediate promise of a paycheck. :-)

Many writers have different writing styles to fit the different seasons of the year–or seasons of their lives. Maybe I’m at the golden spot: I’m enjoying the current season enough that I’m sorry to see it go, but I’m looking forward to all that the next season will bring.

Happy writing!

Cheryl

Opportunities Missed

The current busy-ness in my life right now is that I’m coordinating my local SCBWI chapter’s Manuscript Critique sessions for our fall conference. It’s a cool volunteer position, because it keeps me in the loop for what’s going on in my SCBWI chapter. It also puts me in touch with many of the writers in the Colorado area. Writers of all levels enter the sort-of contest. Sort-of, because it’s not an official contest; but it feels a little contest-like because the best manuscripts will be forwarded on to editors and agents for critiques. The Manuscript Critique offers a rare opportunity to put your manuscript in front of editor/agent eyes–and then hear directly from them what did and didn’t work.

The process makes me realize, though, how many opportunities we miss as writers. Entering the MS Critique was relatively inexpensive–$40 for a critique. Given all the writers in the Rocky Mountain region, you’d think we’d have hundreds of entries–but we have relatively few. Enough that there’s still a bit of competition for those coveted editor/agent critique slots, but still. How many people didn’t enter because they didn’t think they had a shot?

This is also on my mind because I’m in touch with the folks coordinating another opportunity with our fall conference: a scholarship for writers to attend the conference. Again, entering wasn’t difficult–entrants had to write a 250-word essay about why they write for young readers, their current projects, and their writing goals. Relatively few entered.

I also read recently that most editors never see the manuscripts they request at conferences.

Submitting–entering contests–putting ourselves out there to be judged. Those are tough things. But we writers have to develop tough hides if we want to make it in the world of publishing. What better way to practice than by entering a few contests and applying for a few scholarships along the way?

:) Cheryl
PS–This message brought to you by Lily, inspirational poodle extraordinaire, and her new cohort, Killian. We haven’t figured out his title yet. “Your high cuteness” seems most appropriate at the moment, but he IS still a ridiculously delicious puppy. He’s helping me keep the sofa warm as I write, exhausted from his job as Lily’s sidekick.