Thursday, February 22, 2007


Tillie Olson

(January 14,1912–

January 1, 2007)

I read Tillie Olson in college but her message of how hard it is to be a writer and a parent did not resonate until I had a family of my own. It is difficult whether you are a father or a mother to get to the keyboard or the pad of paper when the laundry is piling up, the bathtub leaks down into the second floor,or the youngest has the tummy bug and has spewed once again all over the last bedsheets.Writing is not a leisure sport for parents. Instead, it is a sprint between disasters and bills (which are the same evils). It is the lonely feeling that you get late at night when the wind howls outside and the words refuse to make their stubborn appearance. You wonder at these times whether or not you should have got the MBA instead of an English degree in medieval to Victorian literature and you have doubt about one's self-worth that haunts inside like a lurking windigo. There are no easy answers to the question of being a writer. Why?

It is a sometimes an unreasonable job that, like a forest demon, can be either a blessing or curse to those possessed with ink in their blood.

Tillie Olson articulated this solitude that a writer has when there seems to be only the black box of one's mind among the day to day of housecleaning, penny budgeting, and stretching the self outside of the safe realm of one's imagination to nurture the children that surround you. She will be greatly missed as an author.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


If I Knew The Answer

Someone recently asked me how one gets started as a writer. Fools rush in where Seraphim fear to tread. I know this from my experience as a not yet published author who got her first rejection letter not long ago. Writing seems to be the easy part but getting published is the greater hurdle. I sent in a plot synopsis but didn't fit in with the publisher's list.

I have since been more successful in the commercial markets as an editor. I have updated my initial advice.

I think what is most important to me as a writer is to find something from your own experience. Don't go chasing the latest literary fad. No more chick lit, please. Fads in publication come and go or get stale to publishers very quickly. Boy wizards are out.

Write from your heart. When I write, the words are a culmination of life experiences.

Research the publisher's catalog of books before you inquire on a manuscript. It makes no sense to send a non-fiction tome on the molecular structure of carbon to a literary publisher.

Read books like eating potato chips. Read about everything from nineteenth century violins, for example, to herbs of the Middle Ages and every topic beyond. Make notes if the reading sparks an idea. See the advice below.

Always carry a notebook and several pens to jot down your thoughts. I feel dishabille without at least two pens, the other for emergency ink shortage, and the same quantity of notebooks with the addition of a day planner. Ideas strike with a rain shower's immediacy and fade to dust as soon.Capture these ephemeral tangents while you may.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


From time to time, I will post useful sites for writers.Ralan's Webstravaganza is a useful site for freelancers and those hoping to be published.

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Friday, February 9, 2007


Being Paid What You Are Worth

I recently turned down a French transcription offer. It was my first job offer since getting my plot synopsis for a novel rejected. At first, I was happy that someone would try to hire me but then I started reading the fine print. The company, out of India, wanted to hire me for seven cents a line for 15 hours of French transcription. HA! La conversation a été placée dans la corbeille. Generally,fifty cents to two dollars a word is standard in the writing business. The Professional Writer's Association of Canada has a fairly good assessment of rates for professional writers.

I told the company very politely that I did translation services, editing, and proofreading for the standard rates. I
figure if I can handcode in my own blog and read French fluently, I don't have to take sweatshop work. It is essential to your career as as writer to know what your value is for the labour that you put into your jobs.Otherwise, if you sell yourself cheap, you will never know your worth.

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