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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

Embracing Change
by Tama Westman

Reorganizing my office the other day, I came across a dusty file of unpublished stories. After I first wrote them, I queried every editor I could find, and yet, the pieces were never placed with a publication. Frustrated, I had jammed the rejection letters and returned submissions into a manila file folder marked "unsellable" and stuck it in the back of the file drawer, out of sight.

As I took a few moments to read them again, it dawned on me why they were unsold. Yes, the stories were powerful. However, like asphalt to a bricklayer, they were not relevant. There was no heart-tug or life lesson to benefit the reader, no "take away" value at all.

Free yourself to change
Indeed, I had committed the worst possible sin for a writer; I had forgotten about the reader. With stunning clarity, I realized that my own fear of failure had locked the stories in their infancy, never allowing them to grow into the dynamic pieces they should have been. Like a fool, I was married to the stories as written, and had not opened myself to changing them to better fit an editor's needs.

Flexibility is the key
My work in recent months with non-profit organizations and in the vastly opposite technical realm of corporate markets has pushed me to new understandings. I have learned that flexibility is key to being relevant in a changing world. With a new perspective, I am changing, growing into a better person, and a better writer. Taking the stories from the folder, I played and reworked them until I was satisfied they now held a message an editor would find meaningful. In some instances, I removed the more dramatic passages because it is not always necessary to make the reader cry, so long as you can help the reader learn or grow. Of the three rewritten stories, two have now been sold.

Forget your fear
Fear of failure, of others' opinions, of inadequacy, even success—keeps us locked inside, shades drawn. But when we break  from that fear to reach beyond our comfort zones, to embrace change, then good things start to happen. Our writing becomes more potent when we turn our backs on fear. We self-mobilize, finding new stories and markets as a new energy surfaces in our soul. Like a trapeze artist, we soar, flying without fear. I encourage you to strip away those rejections and forget your fear. Turn the page, a new story is about to be written.

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary magazine, Haute Dish. Her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.

She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students, and teaches beginning and intermediate writers at conferences throughout the country. Married with two grown children, she keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Further samples of her writing can be viewed on her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com feel free to e-mail comments to tama@tamawestman.com









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