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

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

Your Dreams Can Come True
by Tama Westman

Persistence, patience and personal pep talks are three of the main ingredients to making your dreams come true as a writer.

I just returned from a writers' conference in New Mexico. Over 350 writers attended to seek the advice, teaching and possible contracts from the assembled staff of editors, agents and professional writers.

When I first arrived, I was dog-tired from the trip. Unable to arouse any hopes for my own writing career, I focused on what I was teaching and how I could help other writers. I had become disheartened over manuscripts that had yet to sell, and somewhat disillusioned regarding the "make-it-big" process, still, I kept on.

Pressing on
"Hi, my name is Tama Westman, and I have written a book about..." the conversation would begin with an acquisitions editor. I have had similar conversations for years, and yet remained the only writer left on the planet without a book deal. I realize that thought is not realistic; however it falls under the self-pitying category of "I may not be much, but I am all I think about."

In my workshops I encourage new writers to be persistent, to remember that just because one editor may not appreciate their work, and another not understand it, still another may simply fall in love with it. Listening to my own advice, I pressed on.

My briefcase was packed with strategically prepared folders, one for each editor or publishing house I planned to speak to. Inside each folder was a brief writer's bio, photo, writer's resume, and carefully collected clips, ones that backed my experience and ability to handle the project I was proposing, which was also tucked inside.

Perusing the contents while I pitched my proposal, an editor could see in one glance who I was, what I write, how well-versed I may be in the craft, and what I wanted to do for him. Some will not want to carry any more than they have to back on the plane, and so after reviewing the materials, they return them. I used to sigh over this process, until I realized that if potentially upwards of 400 people handed you a folder, an entire suitcase would be needed to transport the little paper dreams.

There are those editors who will be so impressed with what you are pitching that they want to keep the material to remind themselves of you in weeks to come, and to review with their own staff upon return home. And lastly, there are those editors who will know in seconds that you are not going to be a good fit with their publication. While their negative reaction may seem harsh, it will save you months, even years, of frustrated efforts to gain their attention. A quick rejection allows you to concentrate on other markets and publishers.

Persistence and patience wins the day
Sucking in my disappointment and plucking up my courage proved profitable. I walked away from this conference with a series of successes. Three national magazine editors were excited by my article pitches, and two separate book publishers want to see the beginning chapters of a book idea I put forward.

Kicking around conversation over morning coffee with someone who I thought was a no one like me; I was bowled over when that same person asked if I would consider writing for him. "I guess," I said, slurping my coffee as I spoke. "Who are you?" Come to find out, he is a big gun from one of the major U.S. publishers. He was at the conference, unadvertised, seeking new talent. Oh, had I known, I wouldn't have been downing those donuts in front of him like they were a life source.

Lastly, when this down-on-herself writer asked an editor if another of her manuscripts would make better kindling than a book, he looked it over, and offered me a contract on the spot. This time next year, I will finally have a book!

You can make your writing dreams come true. It takes persistence, patience and continual self-pep talks. Then one day, when you are about ready to toss in the towel and line the kitchen cabinets with your printed pages, the heavens will open and rain successes on you. Continue with your craft; sharpen your skills and pitch, pitch, pitch.

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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