I have met many wonderful people since I proclaimed I was a writer. The first person to recommend starting a blog to me was Christina Katz, The Writer Mama. I stumbled upon her blog just before the release of her book The Writer Mama hit shelves. She wrote a blog about blogs and the perks of having one. My interest was piqued so I left a comment. At the time, I didn’t know I was reading a blog. I had typed up writing in my search engine and I was directed to her site. I thought she provided a wealth of information for aspiring writers who also happened to be mothers. She replied to my comment and we exchanged e-mails. She took the time to instruct me how to start my own blog. My first blog Moments to Memories was born and daily writing became part of who I was. I still read Christina’s blog and every time I see her gain more success I cheer her on.
When I decided that I wanted a career in writing for children and teens, I joined the Society of Children’s Books and Illustrators. I loved participating in their contests (I placed runner-up in one) and reading the industry news. It was here that I learned the importance of a critique group. As a new writer, I was naïve and thought my words would stand alone. It wasn’t until I became part of a critique group that I discovered my words could only stand alone if someone else helped me perfect them. I met a wonderful man named Tim Loftus who asked me to become part of the critique group he was forming. Participating in the critique group helped me understand the importance of being acquainted with fellow writers. I also began writing more consistently because of this group. Tim was a monthly contributor for Highlights magazine. He is a dear friend and I value his friendship as well as his critiques. I consider him my writing guru.
It was also on the SCBWI website that I found there were conferences for writers. A place to meet other writers in person, receive critiques from editors and listen to their stories about the publishing world. It was at my first conference that I met a woman who has now become a lifelong friend. I had gone to the conference alone and knew no one that was going to be there. When Joan, an older woman with kind eyes, a long grayish braid and a photo album filled with pictures of her beloved elephant approached me, I knew she was who I was meant to meet. Joan is the author of True Blue (a children’s book that is still in publication). I was blessed to have Joan Elste enter my life and the constructive criticism she gives has been a gift that I treasure.
When I decided to take writing seriously, I had no idea everything that would need to be known before someone else took my writing seriously. The Institute of Children’s Literature provided me with two fabulous instructors who taught me how to format, show not tell, structure a story, and edit.
Once upon a time, I thought becoming a writer was easy. I didn’t think there was much to it. I now know writers travel a great distance before they find success.
The moral of this story is you cannot become a great writer without the help of other great writers. I started this journey solo, but have found interesting, inspiring, and knowledgeable people along the way. There are countless others that I have not mentioned by name. If you are reading this and know you are one of these people, please know you have left and imprint that will never be removed.
I am walking a trail. I cannot wait to see who else I cross paths with. I feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Each person I meet has something to offer me and hopefully in return I have something to offer them.
Do you have a list of people that you are thankful for meeting? How have they helped you get to where you are now?