You can read all the books on craft and publishing that exist; you can meet with agents and editors at conferences; you can stalk message boards and attend workshops. You can do all of these things to increase your chances of becoming a published writer. But there’s nothing more helpful than when another published writer offers you something concrete– a copy of their successful query letter or book proposal, a referral to his or her agent, a critique of your writing. It’s this kind of generousity that makes a huge difference in an unpublished writer’s life.
Mark my words: If I ever get a book published, it will be because Suzanne Kamata (among a small group of other published writers) very generously assisted and encouraged me early on in my writing journey. At a time when I almost quit writing altogether, Suzanne offered to include my essay, Fade to Brown (quoted here), in her anthology, Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Mothering Across Cultures. And when I decided to do my own anthology, she offered me great, specific information on how to write the book proposal and create a marketing plan.
The writing community, for the most part, is a supportive one. But I think we could all be more supportive of one another. We could all pay it forward even more, to show another unpublished writer the way, just as Suzanne has done for me.
WHEN DOES SHE WRITE?
I write on Thursdays.
Shhh. Don’t tell!
I wish I could write every day. I wish I made enough money from writing to justify staying home in my pajamas with a pot of coffee and the computer while my kids are at school, but I don’t. Not yet, at least. I have to go out into the world and teach four days a week, sometimes five.
But this semester, I decided to set aside one day a week for writing. I know that this day could be easily filled up with lunch dates, with errands, with cleaning the house and all the other stuff that I can’t seem to get done during the week. Once or twice I had to give up my Thursday to someone else – to the guy who installed our Wifi, for example. But generally, I don’t even bring up Thursdays when people ask when I am free.
When I was writing my first novel, I wrote in twenty minute increments. I grabbed a little time each day, stole it if I had to. I wrote in the car while waiting for my kids to get out of preschool, in the kitchen while waiting for a pot to boil, at night, with a notebook in my bed. When I’m in the middle of a first draft, I do more of the same. But at the moment, I have three completely drafted novels to work on, an essay assigned here or there. I’m trying to be patient, using my one special day for shaping and crafting.
Until I get to the end of the semester, after which I will have one month to write every day, a burst of time in which to start something brand new I will look forward to my Thursdays.
BIO: Suzanne Kamata started writing novels as a child in Michigan and never stopped. She now lives in rural Japan with her Japanese husband and 13-year-old twins, surrounded by non-English-speaking neighbors who can’t read what she writes, which gives her a degree of freedom.
She is the author of the novels, Losing Kei (Leapfrog Press, 2008) and Gadget Girl (GemmaMedia, forthcoming in 2013); a short story collection, The Beautiful One Has Come (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2011), and a bilingual picture book, Playing for Papa (Topka Books, 2009). She is also the editor o three anthologies – Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2009), Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs (Beacon Press, 2008) and The Broken Bridge: Fiction From Expatriates in Literary Japan (Stone Bridge Press, 1997). For more information, visit her website
. Follow her on Twitter @shikokusue.
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Want more WHEN DO YOU WRITE? See past guest authors here.