This is not a summary of Elizabeth’s book. I jotted notes as I read. I turned them into a top ten list.The words that are bolded are what Elizabeth said about writing. My reaction is in regular font.
10 - Writing should be a vocation. I never planned to be a writer. I grew into it. For the last ten years of my teaching career, I wrote a newsletter each week for my parents. I got used to writing and editing. I like doing it. It fits me!
9 - Make sure you write for something beyond money. Enjoy your words, your story! I’m lucky I don’t need to write for money. I already had a job and earned a retirement. I’m happy to write just for the pure joy of it. Last night I couldn’t write this newsletter. Tonight it’s easy-peasy, AND it’s fun!
8 – Don’t look to others to find success/failure. I could be sad about getting a late start, but 2007 was the right time for me. Two of my kids were in high school, and the other was in college. Writing was easier with older kids, but I only wrote on weekends. Teaching was enough during the week. It’s so much easier to write now that I’m retired.
7 – Writing doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve learned over time that your best has to be good enough. It’s ALL you have to give! My middle school English teacher found 4 mistakes in February. I was finished, and I’d done my best, but when I looked at her comments, I changed 3 of them. They were easy fixes that made the story better. I didn’t change the last one. It added extra words to the story. Extra words are usually not a good thing.
6 – You have to be persistent. I am! I have been writing since 2007, without a single published book. I didn’t quit, and now I’ve done it! I self-published my first book!
5 – If you spend over 10 years at your craft, it equals a PhD. I believe this! Practice makes perfect. It helps you do your best! Each year
over the last 12 years, I’ve grown as a writer. Last year I learned even more from writing and self-publishing Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream.
4 – Don’t spend a fortune on a writing degree. Elizabeth said other writers should be your teachers. For 12 years SCBWI conference speakers, other writers, and children’s books have been my teachers. I listed 16 writing friends on my acknowledgement page. They helped me put my best words into Neil.
3- Other writers are great advisors. A year ago I said I’d stop writing when I was 65 if I wasn’t published. Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder
was 65 when she published her first book? I changed my mind when another writer said what if. What if you’re still having fun? What if you go another month and you publish that first book? I listened and took her advice. Now I don’t have to worry – I’m 60, and I published that first book with 5 years to spare! YAY!
2 - There are magic ideas and ordinary ones. I’ve written other stories that are still sitting in my computer. They were good solid ideas, but Neil was magic! I hit hurdle after hurdle, but something kept me going. In November I quit when I lost my third illustrator. The next day a book club gave me 3 names and pushed me forward again. That’s when I found Cole. This story about Neil was meant to be, and I was meant to publish it. I know, BIG MAGIC!
1 - Writing is Magic! There was something about Neil! I’ve never said goodbye to a story, to a character before. This time I did. I remember the last edit I made on Neil. I felt like crying. I realized I was losing a friend! Writing Magic is the only way I could ever become friends with Neil Armstrong. He died in 2012. I got to know him as a person, as a character, and I’m grateful. I hope you read our story and find your own reading magic!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!