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

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

What a Writer Really Needs to Write
by Sharon Wren

The writing life is fraught with danger, especially if you’re a beginner. Companies seem to be able to smell writers and think, “we must get their money.” They push classes, books, services and programs at newbies like there’s no tomorrow. They flatter you with mail, both e-mail and snail, that say things like “ooh, we saw your work and you’re wonderful – and you’ll be even better after you buy our product.” I’ve been writing for quite a few years now and let me be straight with you. Know what you REALLY need to be a writer? A pen/pencil and a piece of paper. I only say that because if you try to write a book with your own blood, you’ll probably pass out before the end of your first draft of the first chapter.

Oh sure, there are other things that are important – if you’re going to publish online, a computer and ISP are pretty vital. If you want to sell your work, the appropriate market book will tell you where to send your stuff. There are many good books and magazines on various genres that can help. There are excellent classes too, but if you’re over 18 you’ve already gone through the most important ones – English classes, where you learned how to put together a decent sentence and punctuate it properly.

I’m not trying to convince you not to buy anything to further your writing career. (Cripes, a sentence with a double negative.) Are you kidding? I hope to teach a class of my own someday! Just be careful with your money. If you hear about something and you’re not sure it’ll help, ask a writer friend whom you trust. I got an e-mail the other day from someone who said he could get my book in Target, Wal-Mart and other stores. I thought it might be a scam, but I forwarded it to my editor for her opinion. She wrote back that she didn’t have a good feeling about it and neither did I. She’s a friend of mine and wants me to sell as much as I do so I trust her opinion.

The thing that irks me the most is that at least one market now charges people to submit. That’s right, if you want to query them, it’ll cost you. I won’t name the publication, because the last thing I need is a lawsuit, but it’s a publication that’s in Writer’s Markets and it prints humor. Paying a market to read your work is much worse than writing for free. Make a stand for yourself and your fellow writers – avoid markets that want you to pay them first. You deserve much better than that. We all do. The only thing you should ever pay to submit your work is the price of a stamp.

Remember, you don’t HAVE to have anything except a pen and paper. If you want other writing helpers, do your research and ask your writer friends for suggestions. If you want to throw money away, I’ll take it!

Sharon Wren is a freelance writer who has been writing online for over five years. She is the Contributing Editor for Wildlife News & Humor Column at Suite 101, is the Managing Editor for Humor and Satire there and writes humor columns for Laughter Loaf and Absolute Write. She also writes about gardening and parenting. She wrote two books last year, Overworked & Underpaid for Albooktross.com and Dr. Spock Never Said It'd Be Like This for Self Help Guides.com.

She lives on an island on the Mississippi River with her husband, two small sons, 5 dachshunds, 2 cats and assorted ducks, geese and other critters. Her Web address is http://i.am/overworkedandunderpaid. She can be reached at swren1@msn.com









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