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

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

From Poster to Writer
by Meredith Warshaw

Just a few years ago, being a writer was the furthest thing from my mind. Yes, I’d always been capable of writing a decent school research paper and spent a fair amount of work time writing medical research articles. Still, “writers” were a mysterious breed of talented people who were inspired by muses and had magical talents.

Then I discovered e-mail lists. On these lists, people are being introduced to the power of communicating via the written word. They join lists that address areas of special interest in their lives – parenting, religion, pet care, the list seems endless – where they share information and form friendships, conversations get started,  debates rage, and all this is done using the written word. In the process, people who never even get around to writing thank-you notes or holiday cards are getting swept up in the excitement of expressing their thoughts in a medium that combines the immediacy of a telephone call with the opportunity to think about what you have to say before actually sharing your views.

The first list I frequented was for discussion of Conservative Judaism. Topics ranged widely and discussions were fiery. At some point, a discussion began about what people wanted in a synagogue.  As the conversation progressed, I realized that I had some strong opinions on the topic. I wrote a long post that covered my views, and realized that a monthly newsletter I subscribed to might find it of interest. I submitted the article and they accepted it – I was now a published author. Still, I didn’t consider myself a writer.

Over time, I joined some parenting e-mail lists.  More and more, I found that other people were interested in what I had to say. I started to think carefully about what I was posting, writing and rewriting my longer e-mails to make sure that they expressed my thoughts clearly. One day, someone asked if she could put something I'd written on her Web site.  Someone was saying that what I wrote was valuable and worth sharing with a wider audience. Still, I didn’t consider myself a writer.

I started writing sporadically. I occasionally sent letters to the editor. A friend asked me to write a review of the prayer book he’d edited, and it was published. I was asked to write a newsletter article on the topic of a talk I’d given. I occasionally turned some of my longer e-mails into articles for my Web site. None of this was for paying markets, so I didn’t consider myself a writer, just someone with strong views.

Finally, a few months ago I joined the Write From Home e-mail list. I was shy about being there and felt like a pretender hanging around with people who’d actually been paid to write, some of whom had even written books. Soon I realized that the list membership spanned the gamut of writing experience, from old pros to complete “newbies." List members were very encouraging, and I started to learn from them about queries and submissions, how to research markets, how to take rejections and keep on going. With their encouragement, I sent out some queries and had a query accepted for my first real paying magazine article. List members cheered and shared my excitement, gave advice on how to conduct interviews, and even provided quick pre-submission editing help.  At last, I think of myself as a writer.

Although I doubt that I’ll ever write full-time, and I have no plans to attempt the Great American Novel, I now know that writers are people like me – people who have ideas they are driven to share with the rest of the world. And I still find article ideas from my discussions on e-mail lists.

Meredith Warshaw lives in New England with her 11 year old son. They are owned by two cats and are in their fourth year of learning at home. Meredith is the creator of the Uniquely Gifted Web site and works from home advising families with gifted/special needs children. She is also a writer.









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