Most days, I stay safe and warm in my little cocoon of fiction writing. I live in a world of make-believe which suits me just fine. Every now and again, I peek out into the real world because something has piqued my interest or outright pissed me off.
Being a writer, my natural inclination is to put thoughts into words. Most of the time, this has no effect on my life whatsoever but sometimes I get feedback – most of it positive but some of it is downright scary.
After posting my rant on bullying, I got some feedback that was good and scary – positive feedback with a dash of scary added to it. A friend, fellow writer and all-round smart lady suggested I pitch my essays to newspapers and/or parenting magazines (invariably my essays have to do with my children in some form or another).
Up goes my blood pressure, on come the palpitations, and knock-knock go the knees.
To those of you out there who might be real writers (as in, earning a semblance of a living doing it), the afore-described panic attack might seem ridiculous. Freelance non-fiction writing is what most writers do, after all, waiting for their “big break” into fiction and those elusive phone calls from the Booker, Giller, & Pulitzer committees.
Trying to uphold my resolution to live braver this year, I went so far as to contact one of my favourite reporters at The Toronto Star. She is not a friend but she is someone I would love to have as a friend and she is a great writer. She responded immediately (even though she is out of the country on assignment) and passed on the name of two editors at the paper who often consider freelance submissions.
Now comes the inevitable 48-72 hours where I sit and stare at their names in the email while chewing all my fingernails off. Part of the problem is I have no idea how to pitch a story. There are numerous articles instructing novices like me on how to do this – instead of chewing my nails off, I will read them.
I have to keep reminding myself that hiding in the fiction cave all the time might be cozy but it might also be shielding me from opportunities out in the real world. That is the reason so many of us blog – to write, to communicate with the outside world, and to keep an eye on what’s real.