While all that should be enough to do for three people, it wasn’t enough for Stephanie. She’s here today to tell us what threw her for a loop - so much so that she changed her writing life.
Welcome Stephanie Dickison!
Knocked Off My Feet: A Lesson in Writing
Copyright (c) Stephanie Dickison 2008
Copyright (c) Stephanie Dickison 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I found out I didn't get into a writers-editors conference I had applied for.
It wasn't due to the fact it was full, but because I wasn't qualified enough.
As a writer and journalist, I have had my fair share of blows, knocks, criticisms and flat out complaints over the last decade, but I certainly didn't expect this.
It turns out that I don't have enough "national" clips, so the people who are already in national magazines are getting the access to the people behind the magazines, becoming a face that the editor can now recognize and thus getting more and more work, while I continue to query blindly.
All the work I had done in this last year especially, never mind the decade before it - celebrity interviews and cover stories, feature articles on a variety of topics and a book coming out about my career as a pop culture, book, music and restaurant critic - apparently, it wasn't enough.
I couldn't have foreseen how it would affect me.
Normally I bounce back fairly quickly from such losses, but this really got to me. While other journalists and writers I knew and followed were getting feature stories for thousands of dollars, I was struggling to hang out to the few assignments I had and trying to break into markets outside of my reach – and country.
Two weeks later, I found myself getting up early and not turning off my laptop until just this side of midnight. I spent all day querying and writing with fierceness that I hadn't felt before. I was submitting to magazines that I had previously left alone. Suddenly my apparent lack of experience, skills and/or knowledge in any department or topic was left behind in my sheer determination to keep my head down and forge ahead of this setback.
I felt like if I gave up now, what have I been doing with the last 10 years of my life? What would I do instead?
I have always written for the love, not the money, which is why I have been able to write all of these years – I took all of those piddly assignments that “serious” writers talk of not being worth their time, not paying enough, not being “big enough.”
Funny, because now I have enough material for a book and have been a pop culture, book, music and restaurant critic, not to mention a lifestyle and pop culture writer for the past decade. I have written for hundreds of magazines, newspapers, journals and websites and contributed to several nonfiction books and encyclopedias. I write in all areas of travel, home, food, beauty, fashion, technology design and style and really enjoy the research and learning that goes into writing each piece.
It’s now 4 weeks after I was told I wasn’t good enough or qualified enough to go to the conference. I am using the money originally allotted for the conference for a 3-day trip to New York City, my favourite city in the world. This is all the vacation I can afford, so I’m going to soak up every minute of it!
In the meantime, I have been querying and writing like crazy. So much so, that for the first time in my career, I have had daily deadlines for a week at a time, and recently evenly hourly deadlines. I wasn’t sure I could keep up the pace, but I have discovered that I have stamina when it comes to writing – If you need it in an hour, I can get it to you in an hour. I don’t know how I do it, even after having done it. I just will it and type until the time runs out.
What this has proven to me is that I can get new work (for awhile there, I was feeling like I was stagnating, doing the same ol’ work). And I can do a lot of it. More than I ever thought was humanly possible.
I know that some people like working in many drafts, crafting sentences and really pondering over their subjects. Me, I like to get right into it and get it out polished and ready, but quickly, like a newspaper reporter.
And in the last couple of weeks, that has come in handy. I did 11 feature articles in 10 days for one magazine, while juggling 6 assignments for other magazines.
I got accepted to be a contributing writer with one place while being asked to be a columnist at another. I got into 6 new (for me) magazines in a month and have applied to about 40 more.
I may have been told I wasn’t enough by the conference folks, but I feel like by this time next year, they’d have to be crazy not to accept me.
And for me, that’s saying a lot.
Thank you, Stephanie.
You can catch Stephanie on her blog, Got The Knack, where she reviews fun stuff. Samples of her writing can be found on her website. And remember to look for her new book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non Fiction Comedy About Writing and Working From Home.
But before you link away, leave a comment or question for Stephanie.