Welcome To The Writer Mama / Author Mama Proudest Moments Celebration

by @thewritermama on May 14, 2010 · 17 comments

Happy reading!

Please leave your response in the comments section and, if you did not get a chance to participate, please feel free to continue the “proudest writing career moments” conversation in your own blog. Please link back here, if you do, so we can see what you wrote.

Because this is such a big, and pleasurable, reading assignment I’ve broken the Blogging “rules” and chosen to not link to anyone’s anything. For me, reading your submissions, one after the other, was joy enough. Try it and see if you feel the same way.

Also, shame on me, I am not yet done with the final version of Author Mama. I’ve revised it according to everyone’s suggestions (there were gobs!), sent it to the proof-reader (she found gobs more), and now I have to go over it one more time to make sure it is picture-perfect. So give me until the end of the day Friday and I’ll make sure I get it out to everyone who has already purchased the Beta version. This process has been  amazing and I’m still proud of myself for doing it and I’ll have more to say on the e-book process later.

In the meantime, let’s get on with the celebration! These are your proudest moments, mamas…

By Meryl K. Evans:

Inbox. March 5, 2007.

“Want to do a short Outlook 2007 book – need it in about 6-8 weeks, about [deleted] advance and [deleted]% royalty. Really easy to and a nice credit to your name?”

Heck, yeah!

In secret, I panicked. Six-week turnaround on my first book?

In reality, I had three weeks to finish the book by the time everything came together.

No time to dwell on that. With Microsoft Outlook running on one computer and Microsoft Word on another, I started authoring on April 10, 2007.

Instant messages from my sister on April 23, 2007.

“Meryl.”

“Dad went to the hospital in an ambulance.”

“Dad had a stroke.”

That week, I shuttled back and forth between Fort Worth and Plano, an hour’s drive. Of course, I couldn’t do any writing while in the hospital in spite of having my laptop with me. By the end of the week, my family thought my dad was shutting down that we somewhat said our good-byes.

Dad pulled through for a little while.

I knew the book’s deadline was set. The book was part of a series. One of the authors of another book was in the hospital, and she couldn’t get a deadline extension.

The time spent writing the book turned into a blur while my dad’s hospitalization remained clear in my mind. Somehow, the book came together in three weeks. I did it. How I pulled it off didn’t matter. I completed the book on time and Dad saw the published book with his eyes.

He died in December of 2007.

Brilliant Outlook 2007 wasn’t a big seller. Heck, it wasn’t sold in the U.S. So what? I proved I could write a book with a difficult deadline and Dad’s stroke occurring right in the middle of it.

Book. Notch. Belt. Next.

***

By Dionne Obesbo:

There have been plenty of exciting moments, from my first sales to my highest paychecks. I have also had lots to be proud of, from meeting impossible deadlines to making my editors proud with tough interviews, but the truly proudest moment for me so far was my very first fiction sale. After several years of successful freelancing, I decided that it was time to return to the fiction that had been neglected for so long. I wrote a story, polished it, and sent it off. It received one rejection, and was purchased by the second market I submitted to after some revisions that they suggested. The pay is tiny, hardly worth mentioning, but I had built up fiction writing as something so difficult to succeed at that I had not expected a sale within my first year of trying. Making a sale inside a month was thrilling, emotional, and a moment full of personal pride.

***

By Colette Martin:

I have spent the past year focusing on a new career as a writer. I started with a blog, When Fridays Were Fridays, and was excited each week to see my audience grow. At When Fridays Were Fridays I share insights on life in Corporate America, working women’s issues, and business issues. I had a goal of 100 weekly readers, and was ecstatic when, by October 2009, I was reaching over 1000 readers a month. My proudest moment in my writing career (so far) was when Forbes.com asked to reprint one of my early 2010 posts, and then invited me (as one of only a handful of writers) to share my weekly column at Forbes.com Work in Progress blog.

***

By Carol J. Alexander:

I could say that my proudest writing career moment was getting published in a national magazine. I worked hard on that article and jumped right in and answered the editor’s questions and did extra research for a sidebar. But the writing was fine. He had no problem with the composition. So, I didn’t really conquer anything. I just made sure my piece shined before turning it in.

Recently, however, I sent an article to a newsletter for writers. The editor like the content but said my opening was weak, the transition didn’t work and the ending didn’t circle. He told me what he would like to see but I had to come up with the words to do it. And I did. I was so excited that he not only liked the changes I made but said, “This is a wonderful article! You’ve done a great job on revising… just what I wanted.”

I did it. I actually wrote what someone told me they wanted…not just what I felt inspired to write. I guess what I’m saying is this:

For me, the victory is not just writing what I feel inspired to write but what I’m assigned to write and doing it just as well as if it were inspired.

***

By Donna M. McDine

The glass ceiling in Corporate America was never anything I strived to break through in my 12 plus years working in Fortune 500 companies. With pleasure I cut back to part-time when I had my first child and then to working from home as a virtual assistant after the arrival of my second daughter. Happily leaving the “rat race” behind I took my new work from home seriously even though I could technically work in my pajamas. As my daughters’ grew I became restless with the need to create something with more substance outside my family and virtual assistant job.

One day while flipping through a magazine I stumbled upon the Institute of Children’s writing for children aptitude test and went for it. Since graduating in April 2007 I have enjoyed over 25 publication successes both online and in print and several Writer’s Digest Honorable Mention awards. My first story book entitled, The Golden Pathway is scheduled to be published in summer 2010. But to be quite honest with you when someone asks me “What do you do?” I always respond with “I’m a virtual assistant.” Until the day my daughters’ chimed in unison, “No you aren’t. Our mom is a children’s author.” With their quick interjection of the same exact words you would have thought they rehearsed this.

A smile as big as the Grinch’s when he discovered he had a heart spread across my face. My girls expressed their view quick and to the point, providing me with the proudest moment of my writing career. To get recognition by my two daughters’ in such a manner and learning they see me much more than “just their mom” makes me walk lighter and beam with delight. To hear their words is worth their weight in gold. My girls have acknowledged and recognized their mom as a children’s author out in public for all in earshot to hear. So yes, this is my proudest moment.

***

By Cara Holman:

Sure I’ve had proud writing moments that centered around acceptances: my first writing ever accepted to a journal of any kind, print or otherwise (“The Dogwood Tree,” in Survivor’s Review); my first anthology publication (“Mrs. Schwarz,” in Cupcakes on the Counter: The Stoves & Stories of our Families); my first poem accepted (“Sleeping With an Open Window,” in Four and Twenty); and my first byline in The Oregonian (“Writing Group Inspires Breast Cancer Survivor”).

Sure those were sweet. In fact, anytime a writing is accepted for publication, anytime I get a shout-out from someone in my writing group, or in one of my online writing communities, I feel a warm glow.

But the proudest moment of my still fledgling writing career took place before I had the pleasure of seeing any of my writings in print. It was the day I read my first creative nonfiction piece to my mother. It was a short, humorous writing, my entry to the Erma Bombeck writing contest that year. It concerned me, and her, and my kids, and my hair. You see, Mom and I always had a joke between us about my hair—she wanted me to wear it up, and I stubbornly refused. So she would pull my hair back in a high pony tail (which I secretly thought looked cute, though I would never say so) and crow: “See, doesn’t that look much better? You have such a beautiful face and you always hide it behind a curtain of hair.” And then we would both laugh.

She had been asking me for some time to read one of my writings to her. I had demurred. I wasn’t sure I was good enough yet. I only wanted her to see my best writing. But time was running out for Mom. The doctors told us she had weeks, perhaps only days left. With everyone in and out of her room, it was hard to find a quiet time to be alone with her. But one day, I finally managed to, and leaning in close, I read to her “Hair Today.” She lay still listening, smiling frequently, laughing at all the right places. And when I finished, she hugged me to her. “That’s hilarious, honey. You have a talent—nurture it. You’re a winner in my book.”

And to be truthful, that is all the encouragement I could ever want or need.

***

By Allison Winn Scotch:

My proudest writer mama moment was at my very first book reading, at which my children were present. My son, who was almost three, called out to me while I was answering someone’s question and made everyone laugh, and then proceeded to sit on my lap while I signed copies. It was the perfect representation of my life! And I loved that my kids got to see me doing what I do, after all of the hours that they’ve seen me parked in front of the computer typing away.

***

By Jaymie Dieterle:

I wrote my first unit of adult Sunday School curriculum on a whim. I had been looking for work and a friend steered me in this direction. I still remember the day I received a package in the mail from the publisher – my own set of the curriculum, with my picture and “about the writer” description. It was hard to believe that I had written something that was going to be used by people all over the country. It was even more fun to hear from extended family, saying they were proud to “brag” that they were related to me when they discovered I had written what their Sunday School class was studying.

***

By Judy M. Miller:

My proudest writing career moment was reading my first nationally published essay, “Soul’s Speak,” (Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families, Adams Media, 2009) to a large group of mostly strangers at a professional conference this past winter. “Soul’s Speak” is a deeply personal essay that briefly chronicles how I knew my son “was.”  Before he was born, before we made the decision to adopt again, and before we were consciously aware of his existence.

Prior to reading my essay aloud, I became extremely nervous and almost scratched my name from the evening. I had never read in public before, reading so close after the charismatic keynote speaker was intimidating, and the story was deeply personal. I was afraid of failing. Speaking in public has never been my “thing.” But I continued to give myself a pep talk, all the way up to that podium and upon finishing over six minutes later, there was silence. When I looked up, I saw people were crying. A loud applause erupted and many of the women hugged me as I made my way back to my seat and shared amazing, wonderful, and encouraging words. I felt empowered by their intense emotional connection to my work and deep appreciation for their support. This experience has increased my confidence in writing and trusting my words.

***

By Ryann Barnum:

Writing in my own personal blog is something I’ve enjoyed doing for several years. However I could count on one hand the number of people I’ve let read it. Because of this fact, the amount of comments I’ve netted throughout the years rests in the range of one for every 10 posts.

A strange thing happened though, I wrote so much it developed itself into a hobby. The more I wrote the more I wanted people to read and enjoy it. I found myself proofreading and editing my work, making sure it was just so, even though nobody actually read it. My sights were set high and I decided to I wanted to write a book. My blog became the perfect vessel with which to test the waters and see how well received my writing really was. After I had posted a perfect writing sample, I sent it out to everyone I could think of. Tacky I know. At this point I was completely at the mercy of my readers.

My vulnerability was rewarded when the next day I had nearly 20 comments on my sample. All were things like; I didn’t know you wrote, your post was gracefully written, I love your writing style, etc. To most, having merely 20 comments seems ridiculous but for my blog it was a leap in the right direction, a stepping stone towards my goal of writing a book. I no longer felt shy about passing out my blog and in fact welcomed new visitors.

So as of yet, my proudest moment was the moment I realized for myself that I can in fact write and my goal of publishing a book became an attainable one. Next time you ask me I’ll be able to say; my proudest moment was when my book, my hard work, was picked up by a publisher. Baby Steps.

***

By Therese Walsh:

My proudest author moment occurred during my blog tour for The Last Will of Moira Leahy. I’d been a part of the blogosphere for several years, as the co-founder of Writer Unboxed. Still, when I signed on to do a blog tour with WOW Women on Writing, I wasn’t prepared for the outpouring of support and positivity that I received. When I learned that more than 70 bloggers had signed on to help spread word of my novel the day it was released, I felt humbled, touched on so many levels—and definitely proud to be a part of something that felt so much like family.

***

By Mary Jo Campbell:

My proudest moment thus far, as a writer, has to be the latest interview write up about me in my local paper (Feb 2010.) My son would probably say “But, Mom, you were on a TV show! Isn’t that your proudest?” Cool as it was to be one of two spotlight authors on Today’s Tidings, I was friends with the host and didn’t feel like I really “earned” my spot on her stage. Is that silly? I like to work hard and be recognized for my efforts and if I’m a shoe in, it doesn’t feel authentic. Of course, I posted a link to that bad boy all over FB and my blog, though.

With the feature in The Downers Grove Sun, I had reached out to the reporter via Twitter. Yes, that network is more useful than just cramming witty thoughts into 140 characters!

Elaine Johnson and I had an hour-long conversation one afternoon. I was on my lunch break, sitting in my car in my office parking lot. I fumbled over my words feeling like I left so much out. But, Elaine crafted our talk into a half page spread. Both of my sons and my husband were named in the article, much to their delight. As well as mention of my novel in progress and my work with young writers in the community.

That article gained me a new contact, a contact who has since opened new doors for me.  Debbie, a local 6th grade teacher emailed me because of that article. She asked that I come talk to her and some fellow teachers, share my unorthodox methods for inspiring creativity and a passion for writing in young people. I taught a mini workshop for those teachers and plan to work with the entire school in the fall. And, as of today, the methods I taught are being used in her class. Debbie emailed me: “So, Monday I used the Sixth Sense Cards from the Writer’s Toolbox. The kids in my class loved it…oh my gosh, I don’t think they realized they were writing for over an hour. They wanted to keep going and going and going…”

This makes all the worrying and late nights worth it. And I will keep going and going and going.

***

By Cindy Hudson:

My proudest moment in my writing career came at a party for my first book, Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. My husband and one of my best friends put it on for me, and they invited people I knew from my book clubs, from my neighborhood, from my writing life, as long-time friends and former co-workers, and even a few that I met for the first time. My mom made the trip from Louisiana, and both my daughters were there.

When I stood up to make a few comments and looked out at all the smiling faces, I thought how wonderful it was that my writing a book could bring all these friends of mine together. It was better than a birthday party, because no one was focused on age. I think I had the biggest smile on my face, because I was so proud of myself and everyone else who boosted me up by cheering for me along the way. I’m glad you could be there, Christina.

***

By Jennifer Hallisy:

I have taken the subtitle of Writer Mama to heart, quite literally raising my writing career alongside my kids. My two children have lap-warmed, leg-hugged, and hand-pulled as I struggled to put my overtired thoughts into words each day. They have marked up and reorganized my pages more than any editor has. They have repeatedly popped the “Control” key off of my keyboard. (Is that a metaphor?)

They have also come along on every trip to the post office and given every query letter, proposal, and manuscript a good luck kiss before it’s been sent off. They smother me with hugs and kisses even when I get rejection letters, when I fail to write a blog post, when the magazine I just scored a gig with goes under.

And, when my sweet five-year-old son looses his first tooth, the one he’s been wiggling for about three months straight, debating all the while how he will spend his Tooth Fairy money (Bionicle? Transformers? Bionicle? Transformers?) and proudly exclaims, “I’ve decided to use my money to pre-order your book on Amazon!” I swoon. (No, I’m not making that up. I’m not that good a writer! Yet.)

Yes, that is my proudest writing moment so far. Revise that. It might actually be one of my proudest Mama moments as well.

***

By Julie Steed:

Being a writer takes guts. It has been two years and four months since I found Writer Mama—and I am still here, plugging away. My proudest moments (come on, I can’t name one) stack up like this:

1-Every time I sit down and write.

2-Each time my words reach a reader and make a difference. Thanks to Facebook, I know it happens!

3-When my daughter arranges her desk like mine and, on career day, tells her class she wants to be an editor.

3-The day the editor from Southern Living called and told me they wanted to publish my essay. A moment I will never forget.

***

By Karen Banes:

How do I narrow even my, relatively short, writing career down to just one proudest moment? There have been many, from my first acceptance (after I-don’t-know-how-many-coz-I-stopped-counting rejections) to winning my first, and so far only, award for short fiction, to the time an editor emailed me the words, ”I love all your work” (and I had the dignity to resist forwarding the email to all those who had previously rejected me)!

The thing I’m most proud of at any given moment is probably my most recent achievement, so today my proudest moment is finally getting a major part of my platform in place (all thanks to you banging on about it, Christina!) with my new blog changetheworldwithwords.com. (Yes it’s a long url, so please bookmark it if you visit.) This is my new baby, and like my other two babies it has been slowly germinating for about nine months. Like my first baby, it has taken about 24 hours of hard work to actually get out into the world. It still needs work but my first post is up and I’m on my way. Thanks for being the one to convince me I needed to do it, Christina.

***

By Mali Anderson:

When I began submitting, I had rigid goals. Hours to work, to do lists to slash, balance sheets to organize. I figured if I achieved my targets – and lost the pounds needed to fit into my favorite jeans – I’d be happy. Then, one day, the bold font of an unread email appeared. An editor I work with was launching a new dining column and sent out a call for applicants. Fortuitous! Becoming a columnist was on my goal list!

But I hesitated. I write about art, culture, lifestyles surrounding food, not restaurants. The position was almost right. Nearly right. Maybe close enough? So, I ignored my inner doubts and reached for the phone. A rigmarole of discussions, emails and clip trading began. In the end, someone else secured the coveted dining post and frankly, I was relieved. I’m not up to date on bistros and cafés. I’m the kind of person who’s prepping dinner at noon, anxious to cook when the sun sets.

I’m proud I was a contender. The selection process lightened me up, taught me to enjoy writing again, loosened my grip on the goal list. And you know what? Things changed. For the better. A series of articles fell into my proverbial writing lap, an editor who I’d been pitching for months finally responded to a query and an essay (on cooking at home of all things) is poised for placement. So, rather than celebrate a win, I want to clink my glass to the power of a defeat. I didn’t get the columnist gig. I can’t zip up my favorite jeans. But here’s the crazy thing, I’m pretty darn happy.

***

By Jennifer Karuza Schile:

Nobody loves a party like me. Don’t believe it? I’ve got years of pictures, stories, and witnesses to back me up. When I heard that Christina Katz was throwing a party for her first e-book, Author Mama, I knew it was a party I couldn’t miss.

The party invitation told me what to bring: The proudest writer mama moment in my career thus far.

I briefly considered bringing the check I just received for a feature article that will be published next month and my excitement about getting back to that level of writing since having my two babies.

Next, I considered the way I learned CSS so I could update my own blog with new fonts and color until I hired a professional. I was rather proud of that, but I didn’t think it would work for the party.

I thought about bringing the personal essay I had published this fall in the anthology P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, but no. My other anthology essays might feel bad they were left out.

What should I bring to the party?

Ah! Yes. How could I forget?

National Novel Writing Month! After years of thinking about participating, I finally bunkered down last November and made it happen.

Whenever my children’s babysitter arrived, I bolted downstairs and typed furiously to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

I used the NaNoWriMo to help get me beyond some of the struggles I’d had with my memoir manuscript. I tried something radical for the challenge: Write the memoir as fiction in the third person.

It worked! Jen became Gina, Cassandra became Carrie, Stephanie became Stacie, and Missy became Amy. Fear gave way to freedom. 2,000 words became 4,500, 10,000 became 25,000, and eventually I went over 51,000 words.

I claimed the winner’s badge for my blog, ordered the winner’s shirt to wear, and had a messy yet workable draft of what’s now becoming something orderly and beautiful.

Alright. Now that I’ve decided what proudest moment to bring, let’s get this party started!

I’ll take two shots of success on the rocks, please. Actually, make it three. Easy on the mixer. As I said at the beginning, nobody loves a party like me!

***

By Joanna Nesbit:

Some of my proudest writing moments have been when the subject of an article thanked me for getting it “just right,” particularly if it was a sensitive topic. One subject told me recently she thought my article was the best coverage her group had received thus far. Another told me an article I wrote was the best summary of the group’s services that she’d ever seen. Those moments make me feel proud to be a writer.

***

By Emily Chadwick:

I’ve had a few writing successes this past year, my first magazine publication, and landing a newspaper column among them. I am quite pleased with these accomplishments, but at the moment, less than 24 hours between typing this and the conclusion of a writing festival I co-founded, I’m feeling most proud of the Terroir Creative Writing Festival. While on the surface a festival might not necessarily seem like a writing success but I believe it is. The responses from festival participants, all 180 of them, were overwhelmingly positive. People were inspired, enriched and empowered. And I was too.

Writing an essay or an article or a book is one part of the writing life. For those of us hoping to grow a career beyond a single publication credit, there are other roads we must travel if we hold our destination as “writing career.” Christina emphasizes the importance of ongoing professional development and I couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the reasons I sought to create opportunity in my own backyard. I will still travel the Northwest to attend conferences and workshops, but once a year, I love the notion that I can now drive five miles down the road from my house and hear from Oregon’s most accomplished writers.

Regrettably, my writing hasn’t been as productive as I had hoped in the months that lead up to the festival, but my career was far from sidelined. Destination writing career requires many things of us and I truly feel this festival is one of them.

Christina’s Northwest Author Series was part of my inspiration for the festival. So, thank you Christina for doing what you do…for your honesty, your authenticity and your unwavering commitment to help those willing to help themselves.

***

By Jenny Kales:

I’m fortunate that my proudest moments as a “writer mama” have been adding up in the last couple of years, especially since I started to really focus and apply what I’ve learned in many of Christina’s classes as well as Abby Green’s Personal Essays That Get Published.

To start, my blog The Nut-Free Mom, (begun after taking one of Christina’s courses) was mentioned on both NPR and in the Los Angeles Times.  My blog following continues to grow and I also recently secured my first paid sponsor—allowing me to now receive my first-ever income directly from this site.

Late last year, my personal essay, “Slipping Through My Fingers,” was chosen to appear in the back-to-school issue of Chicago Parent magazine—along with a full-color photo of my girls and me.  I was especially proud because this was my first published essay, ever.

More back story: a previous essay had been rejected by the same editor with some helpful comments. I got back to work, wrote a new essay on a different topic and had it accepted immediately. So not only was I proud that the essay got published, but I also was proud that I didn’t give up until the editor accepted my work! (And now I’m a fairly regular contributor to Chicago Parent.) So many friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even my daughter’s first grade teacher read that essay and congratulated me on it. Some said it moved them to tears (it was about kids growing up and not needing Mom so much anymore). People’s responses to my essay were also a point of pride for me. As a writer, if I can move you to tears I’m doing my job!

Finally, this year has seen me realize one of my longtime dreams: completing my first non-fiction book proposal. I’m getting ready to query agents and frankly, no matter what happens, I am proud that I wrote a good proposal and am following through on this project.

It’s been a good year and I hope by next year that I can voice my Proudest Writer Mama Moment of All by getting a non-fiction book deal.

Thanks, Christina, for giving me this opportunity to share my proudest moments. You’ve been a great coach and writing mentor!

***

By Rebbecca Cherba:

It is interesting for me to choose a proudest writer mama moment during a period of my life when everything has changed in dramatic fashion over the past year. Superficially, it’s difficult to pin down a proudest moment, as I don’t have any recent publication credit to call upon. But after giving it some thought, I’ve landed on less of a moment and more of a realization–that being a new mom has actually freed me to approach writing in a new way, as a privilege, not a strength to be taken for granted or set aside. Since I was old enough to write squiggly block letters with a crayon, I’ve been driven to write stories, and I spent most of my teenage years reading and learning and applying structure and characterization and form to my own ideas. I was confident and productive, until I crashed into a major personal obstacle in college, and subsequently lost the confidence and belief that drove me to write in the first place. Over the last decade, I’ve struggled to try and get my old drive back, and even today live with the depressing reality that I’ve never finished a novel, and still don’t fully know what’s holding me back.
When my son was born almost a year ago, I assumed the problem would get even worse, especially since my brain seemed in a permanent fog, and the fluctuating hormones made sleeping a trial, let alone putting words to virtual paper. Yet, I’ve surprised myself by realizing that all the changes I’ve made to create structure for my son have actually led me to accept that I can no longer view my writing as an all-or-nothing marathon of inspiration 100% of the time. Raising a child is not like that–it has its ups and downs, some surprising and inspiring, many routine or occasionally unpleasant–and the process of writing is very similar. Perhaps ironically, I now find myself taking the steps I’ve struggled with for years to make writing part of my daily routine, now that everything about it has changed. Somehow, my mind is now ready to balance the challenges of selling our home, moving, raising a child, and living on reduced income with my husband back in school against the long-standing issue of writing regularly when inspiration was a distant dream. This is my proudest moment, my turning point.

***

By Janine Boldrin:

I was working at my desk and, of course, it was late. I’m a writer mama! That means I squeeze in my writing around naptime, preschool and lessons for my three kids. Sometimes I am amazed at how much I have accomplished considering there is so little time to write. This year: publishing an essay in Skirt!, getting a consistent gig with a local parenting magazine, figuring out the whole reprint world, and continuing several other writing projects (along with taking part in one of Christina’s Dream Teams!). But my proudest moment, that was when my eight year old son came up to me at my desk that night and asked me to help him with a story he was writing. Not just “a story” but a book!

“I can’t seem to figure out what to write. It’s just so hard,” he said.

“Do you have writer’s block?” I asked.

It took a little explaining but he confirmed, yes, it was writer’s block.

“I just don’t know how to do it. How do you write, mom? It’s just so hard.”

On my desk, there is a small pile of books I have contributed essays to, on top of my bookcase is a binder filled with clips, and next to it is a stack of magazines with my articles in them. While I’m still working on “bigger and better,” I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished up until this point.

However, my proudest moment was when my son came to me for writing advice. Yes, I am his mother. But he also saw me as something else: a writer! I can’t wait to read the first of many of the books I hope he will write!

***

By Laura Amann:

“I’m a writer.” With those three little words uttered at a backyard barbeque, I said out loud what I’ve been dreaming of saying for years. And I meant it. Those words represented not my recent successes but a new confidence in my abilities and a public affirmation that I am committed to making this career happen. I’m still new at the game and my bylines and clips are only slowly accumulating. I still feel the jolt of happiness upon seeing my name under a headline and I get a big thrill whenever I open an envelope containing payment for a piece.

I’m proud of the pieces I’ve done and how they have become easier with time. I’m proud that I’ve learned to manage my time and proud that I’m slowly learning my writing style. But above all I am so proud that I have decided to take the leap and label myself a writer.

I stepped back from my career to raise four children and like many women, my identity became wrapped up with theirs and my successes had something to do with them, even the positions that I held in the community. So to call myself a writer is to grab an identity and validate a dream that I have held inside for so long. It’s exciting and scary and I’m not even sure yet what path it will lead me down. But I’ve uttered the words and I’ve taken my first steps.

***

By Jan Udlock:

When I thought about my proudest writing moments, I realized that they are more like my proudest steps. I think I am most proud of doing something that causes me great fear and yet, I still do it.

I remember feeling petrified as I filled out the information sheet for Christina’s Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff class. (March 09) What if I can’t do this? I thought.

I am proud that when I received my very first rejection regarding a parenting article, I punched the send button with another submission within 15 minutes. The pain of the rejection eased when I received my first sale from that email. Sweet.

So far, I’m proud that my largest monthly sales were 14 article in January. Another game I have going is that every time I send a new parenting article out, a new-to-me regional parenting mag buys it. I’ve sold to Canada regularly. My article was discussed on a local Portland television news show and on a local radio program. Another milestone this month is that I sold to  two magazines with two articles apiece in addition to sales of different articles.

***

By Heiddi Zalamar:

I have to say that my proudest writer moment was filing business taxes for the first time ever! I work a full-time job and have a son and write around my work/personal life. Where ever I can fit in my writing, I get it done. So I was shocked when I received a W-9 from my part-time writing gig (Momslikeme.com) and found that I surpassed my earnings for the previous year by nearly $1k! So, I had to file business taxes in addition to my earnings as a therapist. I’d say that’s my proudest writing moment so far. I was proud of myself because I hadn’t set any financial goals for a writing income; I just wanted to earn something from my writing. And I did. It was (and still is) a wonderful feeling to own my status as a writer. And to be proud to own it as strongly as that of being a mother and a therapist. Thanks for letting me share!

***

By L’Tanya Durante:

My boys rarely seem particularly interested in my work. My younger son is 5, so he’s definitely not interested. My teenager is 15 and full of a what’s-for-lunch? & leave-me-alone attitude. So I didn’t share my writing goals with my family, that is, until I sold my first article to a regional parenting magazine. My proudest writer mama moment was the reaction I got when I shared the accomplishment with my 15-year-old son.  I could see in his eyes how proud he was of me. I could see that I was getting some serious cool mom points. He even asked if I could interview him for one of my articles. I was proud that he was so proud of me.  I wanted to stand at a podium, regional parenting magazine in hand, and channel Sally Field’s infamous Oscar moment, “They’re proud of me. They’re really, really proud of me.”

***

By Julia Derkovitz:

My proudest moment finally came to me! It was when I first submitted something to a magazine. It didn’t matter if it was accepted or not, I was just proud of myself for giving it a shot! Writing professionally has always been something I wanted to do, but there was always a reason I wouldn’t try. Finally making the time and just going for it was exciting, and I’m very proud of myself for answering the “why not me?” question with a submission!

***

By Heather Sharfeddin:

The proudest moment of my writing career was the first fan letter I received from a complete stranger. The idea that I had moved someone so deeply with my story–deeply enough to look me up and write to me–was amazing. Each letter I’ve received since has been like that first. They bring me back to why I write and teach me to be mindful of those who will read it.

***

By Dawn Herring:

My husband Bill had found an ad in the Princeton News for a writer/reporter job position. When I contacted the editor, she shared with me a current need for a reporter to do a piece on the town council meeting taking place the following week.

So I grabbed the latest edition of the paper, dissected it, and prepared myself to attend the meeting. I took copious notes and recorded the session for backup. I worked out a couple of drafts, and when the final was ready, sent it the morning before the deadline.

She responded back within twenty four hours to let me know she was happy with it and would publish it in the next edition.

When I went to my local grocery store to pick up several copies, I was delighted to see my byline in the Princeton News for the first time on the front page as the lead story. I felt this was a huge accomplishment, which I shared with family, receiving a hearty congrats from my father-in-law and sending a copy to Mom. I also framed one for my office, commemorating what was truly my proudest writer moment yet.

***

By Liz Sheffield:

I’ve been struggling to find one moment in my writing career about which I feel the most proud. Finally I realized that every step I’ve taken on this writing journey has been a proud moment for me: making the first submission, enrolling in the first class, joining an online writing group, connecting with published authors, attending my first writing conference, and many more.

These steps required courage and a willingness to be vulnerable. What if the editor rejected my submission? (I can review it, make revisions and then submit it elsewhere.) Will the other writers in the class have more experience than me? (Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Regardless, I’ll learn from them.) Do I have enough to write about in a blog? (Try it, you just might like it.) Will the author think I’m crazy for requesting an interview? (No! She’ll probably welcome the opportunity to network and publicize her book.)

Each time I challenge myself to reach outside my comfort zone in the writing world I benefit from the moment — even if the outcome isn’t positive. Moment by moment and step by step, I continue to enjoy each new experience along the writing path. And that’s enough to make this mama proud.

***

By Steffanie Lynch:

Thanks to Christina, Writer Mama, the Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff class, and the dream team I can now call myself a paid published writer. But if I’m being honest, my proudest moment came from a now defunct, nonpaying, free, local publication. It wasn’t my first submission, but the first time I thought of myself as a writer that could possibly be published. I wrote the article for a friend to help her get publicity for her business. I had been working on it for awhile, so it wasn’t as if I was sending a first draft. But after pitching the piece and not getting any response for a couple of weeks, I literally had overnight to submit the final version. And then I heard nothing. I thought the article was dead. I was disappointed, but not much. After all it was a local magazine that didn’t pay.

A few weeks later, a little voice in my head told me to check out the latest edition of the magazine. So I swung by the library and picked up a copy. I hadn’t heard anything from the editor so I wasn’t too hopeful. I threw it on the front seat of the car, next to me and proceeded to run the rest of my errands for the day. Finally when I got home I thumbed through the publication just to see what was there. I had liked articles I had read in previous issues, maybe there was something interesting. There it was. My article! My words and my name in print! For a minute I couldn’t breath. My heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe it. How could the editor have not told me it was going to be published? I found out later this was not uncommon, especially if the publication doesn’t pay. Since then I have been published a few times, some with pay others without, but nothing compares to that first time you see your article in print with your name as the byline.

***

By Mar Junge:

I was a professional writer and published author long before I was a mama. There was never any question that I would continue my writing career full time while raising three children. Fortunately, I was able to do so working from home. Even though at the time a home-based office was considered “unprofessional” by many of my colleagues, I enjoyed the freedom it gave me to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms and was particularly proud every time they told their friends, “My mama’s a writer!”

There have been many more proud moments in my 30-year writing career, but three recent ones stand out:

  • Winning second place in the Writer’s Digest Writer Mama contest (that’s how Christina and I met, virtually.)
  • Last month, my 17-year-old son brought his “friend girl” home after school. Max and I entertained her with funny incidents from his childhood. I blushed when she said, “Now I know where Max learned to tell such good stories. He says you’re a great writer.”
  • Last week, my 23-year-old daughter Melissa interviewed for a job as a public relations writer and web content creator. When the interviewer asked her where she learned to write, Melissa answered, “My mom’s a writer and ever since I was a kid she spent hours editing my stuff. Some day I hope to be as good a writer as she is.”

I have no doubt that both Max and Melissa will be good writers – maybe even great writers. So will Vanessa, my intern, who came out of college a fairly decent writer and now, a year and a half later, can crank out news releases and feature stories with little or no revisions from her very picky editor (me, of course). And my middle daughter Monica, while more an athlete and social butterfly than a writer, will one day read my stories to her children. In my book, there’s no prouder legacy for a Writer Mama than to be able to inspire the next generation of writers.

***

By Jen Levin:

I’ve been somewhat of a sporadic writer throughout my life. I’ve always oscillated between keeping journals that regularly record the random things in life and not putting pen to paper for months at a time. I was content with this irregular routine until I reached a recent point in my life.

About one year ago I realized how over-committed and overstressed my life had become. I fortunately recognized I couldn’t continue on this path of self destruction, and I chose to take a year off from making commitments to everyone else. I decided to make a commitment to myself instead. The next year was going to be all about me.

To start off the year I took Christina’s Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff class and began writing on a regular basis…again. But this time, instead of journaling, I was writing for a purpose. I’m happy to say I’m actually writing for money these days!

I must admit I’m extremely proud of myself for recognizing the need to make some positive changes in my life. I’m also proud of myself for honoring a desire I’ve held onto for many years. Making time for myself, educating myself about how to become published, connecting with other writer mamas and actually following through with what I’ve learned, have all been terrific experiences in the last several months. My self confidence has soared. But, in spite of all these wonderful things, I’ve had a really hard time sharing what I’ve been doing with other people.

Through all these proud moments, my absolute PROUDEST was the day I said out loud to another human being, “I am a writer.” This big moment happened in the smallest of ways, just a small exchange of conversation. The words actually just slipped out of my mouth, but this simple bit of conversation has been monumental for me. The best part I believe it and feel it in the deepest part of my being. Since then I’ve shared my new title with everyone I’ve met.

I’ve worn many hats throughout my life, and I’m thrilled to know I can wear my writer hat and mama hat at the same time. They fit just right, and I know when I start to grow, they will grow with me.

***

By Amber J. Keyser:

In contemplating my proudest moment as a writer, I find myself considering luck. Sure, publishing depends on quality writing, but it also relies upon chance. In Zen Shorts by Jon Muth, Stillwater tells a story about how good luck and bad luck are all mixed-up. Telling which is which can be impossible. I can’t feel proud about the random events that influence my life even if they ultimately have a good outcome. My sense of accomplishment comes from bringing mere dreams to fruition.

In 2000, I was working as a biologist when my daughter, Esther, died. In the depths of my grief, I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was to write a book for her. It was a dream, a whisper of hope in a dark time. I scribbled in my journal. I wrote disjointed, sad stories. I attended the Haystack writer’s conference. I worked on my broken heart.

In 2005, I lost my grandmother, who was a canoe guide in the Canadian wilderness in the 1930s. Again I turned to words for solace. For her memorial service, I wrote a poem that told the story of a young woman taking a solo canoe trip. That text became my first picture book, An Algonquin Heart Song: Paddle My Own Canoe, which was published in 2007.

Thus far, my proudest moment as a writer has been holding that book, which is dedicated to my daughter and my grandmother. It is a book born of a shared love for wilderness, of the unexpected challenges life throws our way, and of hope. That book gave birth to a new dream—that of making a career as a children’s book writer.

***

By Kristin Bair O’Keeffe:

In September 2008, a nanny at an orphanage in Vietnam placed my daughter in my arms for the very first time. When I snuggled up to that sweet, gorgeous, wriggling tyke, my heart burst open like a seedpod and I believed in that bells-chiming, dawn-rising, earth-shaking, seas-parting kind of way that anything was possible. Less than one month later, I got word that Swallow Press was going to publish my debut novel Thirsty. After working/dreaming/hoping/longing/praying for mummahood and authorhood for such a long time, the two tumbled into my life together…just like that.

Today my daughter is a clever, hilarious, pushing-the-boundaries, chit-chatty two-year-old who loves to read books to her donkey, baby, and stuffed animals. She’s memorized Goodnight Moon (along with dozens of other books) and likes to tell people “Mumma writes stories.” She knows that “I” is for ice cream, “C” is for cookie, “B” is for baby, and “W” is for watermelon. She’s pretty darn cool.

As anticipated, Thirsty was published in October 2009 (whoop! whoop!). Every once in a while, the copy I keep on the bookshelf in my office catches my eye and I do a little happy dance in my chair. (If I happen to be standing when it catches my eye, I do a BIG happy dance!) This—mummahood and authorhood—was my dream. Now it’s my life. I’m proud of that.

***

By Abigail Green:

It’s hard to pick just one moment I’m proudest of in my writing career. Getting my first byline, quitting my day job to freelance, asking an editor for my first raise, and breaking into national magazines were all pretty great. But I’d say one recent experience stands out.

Just today I received an advance copy of the June 2010 issue of Smithsonian magazine. My humor essay, “Green Eggs and Salmonella?” is featured on the back page. (AND called out on the cover!) This is
tremendously exciting for many reasons.

First — hello?! It’s Smithsonian magazine! In fact, I had pitched this magazine before and gotten no response before dismissing it as “too highbrow” for me. Then I wrote a column about how to write humor
essays for Christina Katz’s “Writer Mama” e-zine. I explained how Mad-magazine humor and Smithsonian humor were different.

Well, the editor must have had a Google alert set up, because he read my column and contacted me to say he enjoyed it – AND to invite me to pitch him. Let me just say, in all my 14+ years of freelancing, that
has NEVER happened!

So of course, I fired off a completed essay I had on standby. And he (nicely) rejected it. I sent him two more ideas, then another, and finally, one hit the mark. The editor then asked for clips and sent me a contract. All I’ll say is that the kill fee alone was more than I’ve been paid for some of my essays.

After several months and several revisions, my piece was accepted. Another thing I’m proud of is standing up for myself. I didn’t just blindly accept all the editor’s changes, and I didn’t dissolve into self-pity when he said the first version wasn’t funny enough. I took another stab at it, and another and another, and I (politely) fought for the parts I felt strongly about. And you know what? In the final version, they ended up using most of my suggestions.

Lastly, I’m proud that I broke into a major national magazine with no connections, no special tricks, through my own hard work. I got to write about a topic that’s near and dear to me (children’s books), and
that coincides with my current life and writing goals. It’s a great feeling, because I know I earned it.

***

By Samantha Ducloux Waltz:

What a perfect opportunity to thank Christina publicly for one of the proudest moments of my writing life.

Her invitation to pitch a workshop for the Northwest Authors Series turned my writing life upside down. I didn’t see myself as a speaker and teacher of writing, although I’d taught other things most of my adult life from parenting classes to high school English. I simply  hadn’t considered my twenty plus stories in anthologies qualification to set myself up as an “expert.”

After the workshop Christina said, “Now you need to take this show on the road.” So I did.

With another twenty stories out there now, I still don’t see myself as an “expert.” We writers are all in this soup together. But I do see myself as a speaker and teacher as well as an author. I now teach workshops and coach several writers.

Christina is an amazing mentor. Thanks and applause to her.

Photo by hocusfocusclick

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