How does one learn to write? Practice, reading, education, building knowledge, and getting feedback. Being a member of a writing circle can be very important to develop your writing. I became a member of Lit.org, a writers' forum in 2007. Lit.org is a very good site for writers wanting constructive criticism on their writing. I've been an editor for Majestic, a newsletter for Lit.org, for almost a year. I feel this work has really helped me grow as a writer. I hope that the columnists and readers benefit from the newsletter as being a place to communicate ideas, learn about writing, and find support for each other.
How does one break into the publishing market? The traditional publishing houses have been affected by the economy and changes in the industry. They are flooded with submissions. It can be difficult to get a traditional publisher for some. I've met a lot of independent writer/publishers who do well selling their own work. They have complete control over the cover design, layout and content of their work. With the growth of popularity of e-books and print-on-demand opportunities, one can launch a book relatively inexpensively and quickly through Smashwords, Lulu.com or Amazon. However, there's a belief that self-published books aren't screened by third-party assessment. Anyone can publish with or without reaching so-called publishing standards. However, if one proves oneself as an indie writer, will traditional publishers respond to that and take note? If an indie writer receives good reviews does that count as third-party assessment? I would hope that the cream will rise to the top and that quality writers can receive recognition and success regardless of where they started or how they are published.
Having said all that, being new to the scene and not knowledgeable about publicity and publishing, I went the traditional route in publishing my memoir. I started writing my book in 2008. I sent out a query to Bridgeross Communications and got a contract. My publisher is exceptional. He's available to answer my questions and we worked together to edit and publicize the book released in September 2010. I'm happy with the response to my published book so far. I've met a lot of other writers along the way that were really supportive of me. A published book is definitely a milestone.
What does one do after writing a memoir? Do I still want to pursue writing or do I want to spend more time painting? I spent some time thinking about it. If I desire to pursue a professional writing career, I need to put time and effort into being a disciplined writer. For me, that means setting up a weekly writing schedule, goals and deadlines for my stories. In the writing world, there's no guarantee of monetary stability like a regular 9 to 5 job. However, I know of writers and artists who supplement their income with other jobs. It can be a risk but I've met writers who write because they need and want to. Can writing be fulfilling? Definitely. Currently, I'm focused on two fictional novels which I started a while back. One is pretty much complete. The other is semi-autobiographical. Will something come of it? We'll see!
I am participating in the Art Studios Winter Sale and Silent Auction on November 25th, 12-8 pm, at 3102 Main Street in Vancouver, BC. There are paintings, prints, cards, pottery and crafts for sale. The proceeds of the silent auction go toward supplies and workshops for the Art Studios, a rehab program for people with mental health conditions. I will be selling my art cards and copies of my book. If you're around, please stop by!