Monday, October 14, 2013

30 Week Blog Challenge: Week 7- Meaning Behind My Blog Name

What is the meaning behind my blog name?  I started this blog a year ago in order to get back into blogging and sharpen my writing skills.

In 2009, I started a book review blog, but I abandoned it after a few months.  When I saw my friend's blog, I decided to give blogging another try.

I named this blog My So Called Writing Life because I am at a place where being a writer is still a work in progress.  I am taken seriously by some and not taken seriously by others.

My writing journey started when I was a little girl.  I use to draw pictures and write stories with them and called them books. I have gone through lots of paper, crayons, and pencils.  I also developed a love for reading.  I looked forward to creative writing assignments in school.  They were fun because I could make up stuff.

In the 8th grade, I won an award for an essay I wrote for English.  I have always been told that I am a good writer and should pursue it.

Up until the tenth or eleventh grade, I wanted to be a travel agent.  Then I decided that maybe I should consider majoring in journalism in college.  I started researching colleges and careers.  I also went out for the yearbook staff, newspaper staff, and even video journalism staff.  (About once a month, the staff would put on a news show).  Unfortunately I was consistently turned down.  However, I did have the opportunity to take a journalism class. It was quite interesting.

My life changed during my junior and senior year. I am a BIG DREAMER and a too optimistic at times. People probably think I live in a fantasy world where everything works out perfectly and everything is just wonderful.  I had this teacher who said, "You don't have what it takes to be a writer."  She often told me that I was being unrealistic about my goals and dreams.  And sadly, that stuck with me and even went home crying.

I decided to go to a local community college instead of a four year school, and major in liberal arts.  When I didn't do well on papers, I would think, maybe she was right.  I took a journalism class and enjoyed it. My instructor was impressed. This refueled my desire to write.

In 2005, I took a correspondence course from the Institute of Children's Literature.  I enjoyed it because I rediscovered the joy of writing. However, I found out that having a good sounding story wasn't enough. I needed to work on structure, showing not telling, and other elements. I also learned that it was important to read.  I needed to read not only for leisure, but to see how stories are arranged and developed.

Before I finished the course, I started sending one of my stories to magazines for publications.  They were rejected. When those reject letters came in the mail, that little voice crept in: "you don't have what it takes." I stopped putting myself out there.  On top of all of that, I entered a poem in a contest. Sadly, I was scammed.  Again, I thought maybe my teacher from high school was right.

After graduating college, I discovered a site called Suite 101 which is an online magazine. I visited that site every day. I read articles and bios from contributors, and I pictured myself there.  I applied to be a contributing writer many times and I was constantly turned down. I discovered I needed samples.  In 2010, I started writing for content mills like Yahoo Voices, Blogcritics, etc. to build my resume and portfolio.  In December 2010, I applied to Suite 101 again, and I was FINALLY hired.  I felt like a real writer and on top of the world.

Then reality struck.  Despite turning out articles, I earned very money for my work because it greatly depended on revenue share.  I sought out other sites.  Many said I was crazy for writing for pennies. I was a beginner and was excited to be published and to see my by line.

I worked for Suite for a year, and I was suddenly let go. One of the editors called my work superficial.  Also, the editors were tired of editing my work or requesting edits from me (typos, spelling, and grammatical errors).  I remember crying in front of my computer. I felt lost and had to find another site to write for.  Again, that voice comes back, "you don't have what it takes."

I found another site that paid me decently for assignments, and things were going well until this summer.  I am at a point in my writing life where taking on projects under $10 is not worth my time.  I am beyond the glitter, bright lights and excitement of seeing my by line.  I have seen other freelancers go beyond content milling and moved on to writing books.

I decided to make a goal for myself. In five years, I want to have a book published even if it doesn't make the NYT bestseller's list or is popular.  I also want to move beyond writing for content mills and take on meaningful and well paying projects.

After high school, I wanted to write a book. I would start a story, but it went nowhere. I worried about how long a chapter was supposed to be.  I took the course from ICL thinking that it would help me get published. Many thought that the school would help me get a book deal.  Actually, they give you the tools you need to help you get that book deal.  It doesn't just land in your lap, you have to work for it.

In 2006, I set out to write a novel.  Sadly, I have abandoned the novel several times.  I guess I had a tight hold on my characters.  Another issue with the novel is that I have a physically challenged character as my protagonist.  She is just an everyday girl trying to work through obstacles like everybody else, and by the way she is visually impaired. That may not translate well for readers.  Usually when physically challenged characters are presented in movies and books, they are seen as heroes or someone to feel sorry for.  I definitely don't want my character to be felt sorry for.

I took this the first chapter of the story to a writer's group three years ago, and they loved it.  They were like this is great, we don't see this in books everybody.  And they were right. As an avid reader, I see what's popular. Honestly, I'm sick of the paranormal, vampires, and similar stuff that's taking up the shelves.  People have different tastes and that's their decision and I highly respect that.

I wrote about eight chapters of the novel and I had to start all over again when my thumb drive stopped working. It is unfinished and shelved.  I have only shared my unfinished novel with a few people. Some thought it was a good idea, some thought it wasn't.  "Nobody wants to hear that."  To me this is a problem. There are a lot of issues happening everyday that some do not care to hear about. Case and point, the interracial family in the Cheerios commercial.  To me this is normal, no big deal. However, on the other hand, here it is 2013, and some people don't want to see it or hear about it.

I wish I could have joined the writer's group. Maybe they would have pushed me to finish it.  In 2011, I signed up for Smashwords, which is an independent ebook publisher.  Recently, I decided to stop listening to self doubt, negative speech from the pass, and write something.  It is time to silence, "you don't have what it takes," and say "Yes I do, watch me."

In September, I published a collection of short stories and a children's short story.  It's going along slowly. Since I am a newbie, I had to offer the ebook for free download for a limited time so that people will take a chance and read it.  I don't want to give away my hard work for free, but sometimes, that's what you have to do.

My blog explores the ups and downs of the writing life and other interesting events or other things that are happening outside and away from the computer.  I felt inspired when reading my favorite authors' blogs because they don't bore their readers with writing issues, but they talk about pop culture, current events, etc.

One of the things I miss about the writers' community at Suite 101 is the support. Sure, we grumbled about how much we were earning, but more importantly we supported each other.  We supported each other's social media fan pages, checked out books, etc.  We believed in each other when everybody else out there thought that we are crazy for chasing this dream.

My aim is to offer inspiration and a good laugh every once in awhile.  I am also constantly looking for ways to be taken more seriously and continue to build credibility as a writer.

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