Today I walked into my mom’s grade three classroom with my two-year-old. She was the hit of the day, distracting them from Math. A welcome change. Immediately the hands started flying up to ask me questions. I assumed they would be toddler related questions about her development, the words she can say etc. Instead, they were all questions about poetry and writing. How many books have you written? How many poems have you written? How long have you been writing? And my personal favorite, what does it take to be a writer? Funny what getting published will do. I was always told that publication is just another hurdle, not the definition of being a writer. It comes with its fair share of challenges, namely the pressure to write more and perhaps “better” than before. I am an infant in this industry. I recognize that and am willing to learn all I can. However, what I am discovering is that it feels pretty good to be recognized by a literary magazine. It feels even better that it is a Canadian literary magazine. Signing the publication agreement sent me soaring and I have written more than I have in a long time. It has handed me motivation like I haven’t had before. A person doesn’t have to be published to feel this kind of flight. There are a few things you can do to take your writing on a date and try it out in the public eye:
1.) Open Mic Night
Pretty much every city has some form of spoken word open mic nights. This is great way to meet new people in the community and try your poetry out in front of an audience. Poets are really lovely people (at least the ones I’ve met) and they have all been there. They are your friends that you haven’t met yet and they will give you delicious feedback on where your work could potentially take you. If you are in the Calgary area you will want to check out Sheri-D Wilson and the Spoken Word Fest on Facebook or Single Onion, they have monthly open mic nights.
2.) Writing Workshops
I know we (the midwives) are totally biased on this one, however, writer’s workshops are a community and most of them require you to share your work. They are a great way to network and add to your writing toolbox. Besides The Writer’s Midwife, the Alexandra Writer’s Centre and the Alberta Writer’s Guild are two places we recommend getting a membership!
3.)Read Literary Magazines
Go out today and buy a few prospective literary magazines you can imagine your work appearing in. This will give you a better idea of what kind of writing they are looking for. Plus, you get to support these wonderful magazines! My favorite book to check out all of the literary magazines and agents in this country is The Canadian Writer’s Market. It has everything you could imagine knowing about where you want to send your work away.
4.) Send your Polished Work to a Magazine
You can use manuscript editing services through different writing organizations before you send your work away. The Midwives will even offer it! Many writers we know choose not to take this step and we understand it’s scary! However, blasting through the fear is part of the deal. The world deserves to see your work. It is liberating to send a piece of writing away. It is almost like giving it legs, or better yet, wings. If you receive a rejection letter, you have just joined the ranks of many, many authors who even make collages with theirs. It is also part of the deal. Try your best not to take it personally, there are many reasons a magazine may reject your work and it’s not always personal.
These are just a few tips to bring yourself out of the closet. Allow your writing to expand to a bigger audience. All in all you will know when you are ready. We would love to hear about your publishing stories or your rejection stories. Feel free to comment and share with us.