Monthly Archives: August 2015

Finding the Time

By Susan Wroble

alarm-clockFor the past two decades or so, I’ve struggled with that all-too-familiar question: How do I find the time to write? I’ve pretty much tried all the tricks: scheduling writing on the calendar, going on retreats, the 15-minutes a day plan, writing at night when the kids went to sleep… They all failed, but that last one was the worst. It turns out I really need my sleep. I got extremely mean and nasty when I didn’t get enough – to the point where even I didn’t like being around me, to say nothing of my husband and kids. In short, in twenty years of struggling to find the time, I never won.

But while I haven’t found the time, I also haven’t given up. I’ve managed to do some “low level” writing – a few stories that I’ve written and filed without submitting, some short articles for on-line magazines. I keep going to SCBWI conferences. I read. I edit for my writing group, the wonderful women of In The Writer’s Web. And I’ve studied this group closely. The ones with children older than mine have been my real inspiration. I’ve watched what has happened when their kids left for college, and their job of active parenting wound down. It has been edifying and heart-warming to watch their craft improve and their writing blossom.

I think that each of us comes to this planet with some lessons we have to learn, some pieces that our soul needs to work on. Everyone is different, but for me, it has felt like one of my pieces was acceptance; acceptance in putting my loved ones first, acceptance that the time for my writing will come, and acceptance that waiting for that time did not mark me as a failure.

Now, with our youngest heading off for college soon, my quest to find the time to write is nearly over. There is not much more I can do to mold our children’s personalities, or teach them more knowledge and skills and techniques in dealing with the world. That time has passed. I may have lost twenty years of skirmishes in the battle to find the time, but I’ve held on.

And in simply holding on, and not giving up on this dream, I feel like I’ve finally won the war.

 

 

image by rg1024 on Openclipart

 

 

 

 

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Finding Your Niche

Clipart by Moini on Creative Commons.

Clipart by Moini on Creative Commons.

I once laughed at the thought of writing anything but picture books. It was early in my teaching career when I taught first grade and I found myself immersed in them. During my day, I incorporated them into lessons, picked favorites for read alouds, and helped recommend a good story during library times. Finding timeless picture books became like a quest for me.

Naturally, when I sat down to write, the stories I crafted were picture books. The talented authors; Kevin Henke, Jan Brett, Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, and countless others created stories so rich and lively, it was a joy to read and reread them. How hard could it be to do the same thing?

Unfortunately, I soon found out, you can’t sit down and whip up a children’s book like you would a cake. There is an art to building a character arc, creating relatable characters, and rhythmic dialogue, rhyme, or prose that leaves children begging to hear the story one more time.

While I never gave up on picture books, I decided to try something longer, a chapter book. This stretched beyond what I was familiar with. After spending months drafting my story, I knew I needed help. A writer friend told me about her experience with a writing coach, and I followed in her footsteps.

Working alongside an expert in the field, gave me tools and wisdom I couldn’t gain working alone. When we toiled all the way through my story and finished, I had one more hour of time remaining with her. What can you do with that?

Determined to keep going, I turned to writing a magazine article. Again, I found myself embarking on a new adventure. As it turned out, my coach taught magazine writing. With that one hour of time, she showed me the essentials for writing an eye-catching article.

I submitted my article she coached me through and got a nibble. This sparked an interest in me. I submitted other articles and one day received an email with the response I longed to hear. An editor wanted to acquire my work. Success! And in a place I least expected to find it.

When I first started my writing journey, writing for magazines never crossed my mind. Neither had writing a novel. But never, say never.

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