I am honored to have as guest blogger today, my friend, Joan L. Cannon. Joan and I met online a few years ago when I first set up the Netwest Writers' blog. I admire her for many reasons. I enjoy her writing, her use of language and I envy her vocabulary. : )
Thank you, Joan, for contributing to Writing Life Stories.
I often choose the moniker “Old Scribe” as a user name online. Since I am at least the first part, and hope to deserve the second, it’s appropriate. I’ve wasted a good many years wishing I’d started sooner.
In my mid-fifties, I took two correspondence courses in fiction writing. Like most English majors, I was confident about writing an essay or a report. I knew grammatical rules and something about how to organize, and how to research (in those long-gone days of using a brick and mortar library for the purpose). Though a lifelong enthusiast of fiction, I had no confidence in my ability to write it, and that was what I wanted more than anything.
It’s a poor day when you can’t learn something, and I did benefit from those classes, though less than I had hoped. They reminded me of psychology courses I’d taken for teacher certification: they seemed mostly to be common sense. I got a great deal from a really good writers’ conference I was fortunate enough to attend. It didn’t take too many years to show me that I couldn’t afford to keep looking for ways to formal instruction.
I began by selling my first short story to a small literary magazine recommended by my course instructor. I thought I might be on the way at least to paying for my hobby, a hobby I couldn’t help viewing as work.
I wish I hadn’t always put my family duties first on some days, and realize I would not change that lost time for anything because of how I lost it. So now it’s a question of making the most of the time I have remaining. Any younger person who wants to write and lacks time has a wealth of sources for assistance in how to budget time, manage the demands of others. I didn’t even consult them.
The other hold-up for me was that I was too lazy to stick to the endless revisions that in those days required re-typing pages every time I saw a needed change. I almost never finished anything that wasn’t an assignment.
Then we got a computer in 1983, and my life was changed forever.
There’s just no advice I can give to anyone who might read this because it means she’s already three quarters of the way to where she needs to be to write, and write, and write. She has a computer and knows how to use it.
Maybe I can show that even starting very late, and selling nothing for almost 15 years, you can still have an occasional success in being published—if you have a computer. That’s where you can meet people who will help; that’s where you can find possible markets and the advisors to help you break into them; that’s where you can find like minds if there aren’t any in your geographical neighborhood. The Internet is what keeps me plodding ahead with hope. I honestly don’t think it’s too late, however late it may be. Last night I had a poem accepted for an upcoming print anthology. I found the contest online, sent it online, got the acceptance online.
Finally, here I am because a lady I met online has been boosting me ever since I found her, and that’s why this is on her blog. She introduced me to a wonderful website whose editor invited me to submit on a regular basis. I have three or more dozen articles published there since Glenda suggested I might be interested in Senior Women Web. I’m conceited about being among their regular contributors. Without the ‘Net… Oh, did I mention that I’m having my 83rd birthday in September?
Joan L. Cannon is a Manhattan native who spent most of her life in a small village in Connecticut. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from Carleton College. Among other jobs, she has taught English and theatre arts, been an editor, and retail manager. She lives now in the North Carolina foothills.
Her short fiction has appeared in both literary and commercial markets, she has two novels out and a third looking for a home. A story can be read at http://www.bookstogonow.com/rescue.html. She has had poetry appear recently online in Lowestoft Chronicle and Wild Goose Poetry Review. A collection of stories will be released soon. She is a regular contributor of book reviews and essays to Senior Women Web. Joan's Website is www.jlcannon.net; Read more of Joan's thoughts on writing on her blog www.hilltopnotes.blogspot.com.