Monday, December 31, 2012

My writing life in 2012


Writing became a way to live with my son Paul’s bipolar disorder and to survive his suicide as a result. However, I never dreamed it would become my way of life. I still cannot get through the day without writing something. However, in the last few years it has become more than a balm to ease the pain. It has become a joy and a way to meet and interact with some very wonderful writing friends. 

Like writing, I can never have enough Buddhas
(Richard Stock photo)

With that in mind, I thought I write down a few of the highlights of my writing life from 2012, starting with my first publisher’s decision to go out of business. At first I was indeed devastated and then so angry. She closed down with four days warning and cut off our websites even before that. But the devastation and anger were very short lived. I reached out to a few writing friends – especially Keith Alan Hamilton – and got some suggestions about where to query. However, my dear friend and mentor Mark Shelmerdine came through for me yet again. He suggested Mike O’Mary of Dream of Things and within two weeks after I contacted Mike, we had a publishing deal. And I couldn’t be happier with this connection. He produced paperback and eBook editions, began a huge marketing campaign, and scheduled a group of readings and a radio show in Chicago in September. That gave me the opportunity to meet Dina Kucera, another author on the Dream of Things list. Her book Everything I Never Wanted to Be is a sad and funny and heartwarming tour de force.

I also joined a few other Facebook writing groups besides the couple of poetry groups I have been in for the last few years. The National Association of Memoir Writers, Gutsy Indie Publishers, Write Your Life Story, Writing Wranglers, Rabble Writers, to name a few.  Also through Mike’s suggestion that I join Help a Reporter Out (HARO), I got a monthly “paying” writing gig on a site called Aging Bodies and connected with Meryl Hertstein who created Bounce Back Women and is planning an anthology of women who faced adversity and their bounce back stories. Other writing organizations I got involved in this year are Storylane, Story Circle, and She Writes. Too much for sure, but I’m never without some place to submit my words. Speaking of, I also participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenges in April and November and write to his weekly prompts.

Besides I continue to write for Naturally Savvy, PsychAlive, and Open to Hope, Red Room, and my own blog, plus my regular tweets and posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I wonder what more is in store for me in 2013. The writing opportunities are indeed endless.

I’ve also increased my speaking and signing engagements this year – speaking about my book, writing to heal, and writing tips in general – on NAMW, Google+ hangouts, at a couple of Great Los Angeles Writers Society-sponsored writer’s conferences, and a wonderful evening at my synagogue on a panel about surviving tragedies – plus participating in the GLAWS booth actually selling and signing at the LA Times Festival of Books and the West Hollywood Book Fair.

And still there is always work to do. This writing life is way more than just sitting down to write. It is so easy to see my time gobbled up with marketing activities.

Probably why I keep putting my historical novel back on the shelf. That is not to say that I’ve made no progress. I’ve gotten to over 90,000 words this year. Actually I’m not looking to write many more words but to flesh out what I have – why I’ve signed on to take a workshop in revising my novel in February at UCLA extension – one of my first formal writing activities in the new year.

It’s so easy to be a lonely writer, so going to GLAWS meetings and interacting on hangouts and roundtables, and taking classes is always a way to learn and network. And through these kinds of activities I’ve made some wonderful writing friends this year who have generously hosted me and my book during my three-month blog tour and wrote guests posts on my blog Choices. I cannot thank them enough. Makes me feel I’m not so alone – that we all have the same questions, misgivings, and thoughts about our writing. Now I know whom my go-to people are for sharing and give and take. As with everything else it takes a village to be a successful writer. I look forward to more interactions in the new year.

Thank you again, my writing friends. I appreciate and love you so much.

2 comments:

Keith Alan Hamilton said...

Madeline it has been a fabulous process watching all your hard work start to pay off. Congratulations on a great 2012 and I know 2013 is going to be even better. ~Keith Alan Hamilton~

Madeline Sharples said...

Dearest, Keith, thank you. And thank you for all your support and love. I look forward to our poetry/cell-phone photography project.
Have a wonderful 2013. xo