Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Stay Gold, Ponyboy"

In the past month or so, in this series of blog posts, I've touched on five basic areas of freelance writing:
  1. Researching markets
  2. Researching/writing articles
  3. Pitching the right story to the right editor
  4. Handling rejection
  5. Getting published & working with editors
So what else is there to cover?
Oh my gosh--so much! I don't know that I've really even scratched the surface of the topic.

Want proof? Google "how to be a freelance writer"--go ahead, I'll wait. When I did it, I got well over 24 million hits returned in a fraction of a second. I'm not the only person out here posting advice to freelance writers.

Here, on this blog, I've tried to share information that I've found helpful or that has helped me (or others I've worked with) to find success. But know that if what I've shared wasn't exactly right for what you're looking for, there's a ton more information out there! Now, I can't vouch for that info but I can vouch for what I'm telling you.

I'm focusing on submitting pre-written articles and primarily regional publications, but there are all different markets and ways to submit to them. The basic guidelines stand however--research your market before you ever decide to pitch. Research your article before you write it. Research your editor before you send your story (or your idea for a story). Be prepared. Your most useful tool as a writer is preparation.

Why the title? As I was writing this post in my head, this is the line I kept returning to. I'm not a big S. E. Hinton fan or a major fan of The Outsiders, for that matter (though I did read it in 7th grade English and I also saw the movie! But I'm now currently rereading it, as prompted by this strong connection which came out of nowhere.). Why was it coming to mind now? Well, it's set in Oklahoma and Hinton is an Oklahoma writer. Maybe she's speaking to me through the red dirt that's blowing around in this drought state we're in? Who knows. But I know that when something comes in your mind and won't leave, you should pay attention to it.

So in The Outsiders, when Johnny paraphrases Robert Frost's poem ("Nothing Gold Can Stay") and tells Ponyboy to "Stay Gold," he's telling him to maintain his youthful innocence and curiosity. And what better characteristic for a writer, then to maintain their youthful innocence and curiosity? It's that hunger for more, that desire for better, that thing inside that tells you it's possible to have what you want, even though it might not seem possible on the future.

Writers make things happen. That's an amazing gift. If it's your desire to reach others through your writing, never give up on your desire.

Instead, keep working. Work hard to improve, to prepare--to stay gold.

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