This post by Gayle M. Irwin
I have an anniversary coming up. Nine years ago next month I attended my first writers’ conference. I traveled to New Mexico thanks to a free airline ticket I received when I was bumped from a full flight six months prior. Two months after that conference, I left my full-time, good-paying federal job, seeking to become a freelance writer and author. Oh, the dreams and visions I had for my future as a writer!
Nine years … I haven’t actually “made it” and I don’t necessarily have less stress in my life from that time as a federal employee, but I am thankful for the journey. I still work a “day job” but one that gives me (usually) two weekdays in order to focus on my writing. My current day-job is also stressful, especially now as we’re gearing up for a major fundraiser and going through bumps in our data/computer system. Balancing that job with my writing work, such as interviewing people for stories for various magazines and newspapers, can be tricky, especially now that I’m middle-age (I don’t juggle as well as I used to).
I love the writing work, even when it’s challenging. I recently received my final check for They Served with Honor – Vietnam Veterans, having turned in my final story for that project in early September. Those interviews were often quite emotional, both for the veteran and for me. I’m now in the midst of six articles for Crossroads, a magazine published annually by the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce. This is my third year writing for that magazine, and it’s more challenging this year as I have three stories about new projects at F.E. Warren Air Force base; finding people willing to talk about those endeavors has been difficult, even with the help of the base’s public affairs office. But, I believe we’ve found a solution and I look forward to composing, and completing, this assignment within a few weeks.
Writing isn’t easy. I struggle to create books sometimes and, as testament above, not always do article sources pan out. Oh, some days the words do just flow, like when I sat down at the Gillette, Wyoming, library last Friday as I drove to a writer’s workshop. I’d been toying with the idea of new book, a collection of short pet stories I’d written for other publications that either weren’t accepted or were published quite some time ago – my own Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul collection, if you would. The works are good, and I’ve been editing them to make them better, and so instead of letting them sit or keep trying other venues, I’m creating my own. I believe pet owners will enjoy these “tail tales,” stories that touch hearts and impacts lives.
During the drive to the workshop, I thought of the cat from my childhood, and when I sat in that chair in that library, the words eased from mind/heart to computer/page like maple syrup flowing from northeastern trees. Of course, I’ve edited the story, but it’s amazing when the mind is clear, the words can, and do, come forth.
I’ve been blessed this year with various articles, projects, and publications. As the article-writing dies down, I’m looking forward to picking back up the manuscripts I’ve been desiring to complete for the past year or so, including three children’s stories and a book project I started after that first writers’ conference. Nine years – that’s awhile! I likely won’t complete it this year, but it gives me a new book project for next year; maybe a 10th anniversary book!
The writers’ workshop I attended last weekend was located in the Black Hills region of northeastern Wyoming (my reason for stopping at the Gillette library was for a break… but it became more!). The workshop was a fiction-writing program and though the presenter writes works that are outside my box, I have a manuscript that I started a few years ago which remains unfinished; it was outside my box of comfort. Yet, I feel compelled to finish it, and I’m hopeful what I learned at last weekend’s workshop will spur me to do so. I came away from the workshop excited and considering that WIP. But, I have others to work on first.
Getting away from home and spending time with other writers, and later at the quiet of some friends’ ranch, spurred my creativity – I wish I could have stayed a week!
During the past year, I’ve also been fortunate to have some of my children’s works turned into a serialized story, published in our local paper which produces a kids’ section. One of my latest works is producing another such story with hopes it runs this winter. The story is nearly finished and deals with sibling spats. I’m looking into how I might get this and other children’s stories into other publications via syndication.
And just this week I signed up for Thrive Hive, a small-business marketing endeavor from Propel Marketing. This aspect of authorship has been the greatest challenge for me, and I believe this company will be of great help. For a low monthly rate, I will be able to reach out to more people through various means, and though it’s DYI, the company provides a platform, helpful marketing people, guides, and services that will keep me on track and motivated. A new step for me, but one that I hope will yield positive, encouraging results.
My desire is to be a fulltime writer. That would consist of being a book author, an article writer, a short story creator, a blogger, and other measures that would bring in an income. I’d hoped by the end of this year to be at that point, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. There is always next year.
At times I’ve wondered if I’m truly a writer. When people don’t show up at booksignings, I truly doubt. I’ve asked for the thoughts to stop, to turn off like I can turn the TV or radio off. Then, when the stories and ideas won’t stop, I realize that yes, I AM A WRITER! That was apparent last Friday when new children’s book ideas popped in my head and when I stopped at the Gillette library, sat at my laptop and cranked out a new pet story for my upcoming Tail Tales short story anthology.So, I guess since the ideas won’t stop, and I since I was inspired by the fiction-writing workshop, I need to accept that I am a writer. And, I’ll just keep working on stories, articles, and books… for that is my calling.
I AM A WRITER!
Gayle M. Irwin is the author of seven inspirational dog stories for children and adults. She is a also a freelance writer for various magazines and newspapers and is a contributor to six editions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as to the short story collection Memories from Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart, released in July 2016 from Sundown Press. Gayle is passionate about pets and animal adoption and supports several animal welfare organizations through donations from her book sales, assisting at events, and transporting dogs for rescue groups. She is currently working on new books, including BobCat Goes to School, a humorous children’s story about a cat that gets trapped in a school building; Tail Tales: A Short Story Collection About Pets that Have Touched My Heart & Impacted My Life; and Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature, which parallels the seasons in nature with the joys and challenges of life. Learn more about Gayle and her works at www.gaylemirwin.com.