After attending my first writer’s conference in 2001, and joining the Word Guild in 2002, I decided to try different kinds of writing to find what I most enjoyed.
My first publication credits had been informational articles. I wrote book reviews, children’s stories, opinion editorials, family stories and poetry. While I found markets for my reviews and poetry, locating a market for family stories seemed elusive, and so the stories remained stowed away in my computer, and backed up on discs, until the day I would bring them to light.
In my early days as writer and member of The Word Guild, co-founder N. J. Lindquist, reminded members that eventually writers need to get up in front of an audience and speak. Early in 2004, knees knocking and with much trepidation, I joined Toastmasters and embarked on the journey of stage time, so that I would be ready whenever the opportunity presented itself.
It took me awhile to call myself Writer, but on the journey, I found I liked to tell stories, which led me to the Story Barn in Baden, Ontario, and then the Storyteller’s Guild. I attended Open Story Night and told regularly. I was hooked on storytelling and listening to stories.
One evening at the Barn, we celebrated the launch of Latitudes of Home, written by fellow storyteller, Sally Russell, about her years of growing up in Georgia. I always enjoyed hearing her tell stories and so I bought her book. I was not disappointed.
The more I read, the more I pondered what if. What if I assembled some of the stories I had written? What if I wrote some of the stories I told so that readers could pick up a collection anytime they wanted to? Who would be interested? Judging by the growing movement in storytelling, and how eagerly listeners at the Barn received the stories, I thought there’d be a sufficient audience.
And so I gathered what I had written, wrote others and put them together in a manuscript—stories about rural living and what it meant to me as a child, recollections of chores and learning to cook, whitewashing the barn, taking care of my 4-H garden, and pet and children antics. I discovered that I needed more material to fill a book and so I wrote more.
While working on a family history the same year, we talked about how things were in my grandparents and my parents’ earlier years. I asked questions and made lists of possible stories, rewrote and revised stories with the help of The Word Guild online critique group. Thus began the manuscript for Once Upon a Sandbox that was released in June.
While my manuscript was under consideration and afterwards, I made a greater effort to get up and speak at my Toastmasters club, entering contests in the club last winter and representing the Energetics at the area International speech contest. I worked on new stories for telling and shared them. I also wrote out a tentative plan of where I could speak and promote my book.
With my first launch behind me and information from our latest Write! Canada conference still whirling around in my head, I add to my promotion and marketing plan, limited only by my imagination and resources. As in any project, it takes one purposeful step at a time, and even a marketing plan gets done. One step, two, and three— I’m on my way. Here’s to Once Upon a Sandbox, a memoir.
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