Friday, March 8, 2013
Writing is a Team Sport
by Kim Van Sickler
In today's Celebrate the Small Things blogfest post, I'm celebrating every single vote I get on manuscript #63: Muleskinner, for a chance to win a scholarship to the Backspace Writers Conference in NYC in May. If you could add your vote too, I'll celebrate YOU! See below to see how.
Writing is a team sport
I never imagined that sitting at my computer writing stories would turn out to be such a collaborative effort. But it is. Take my current book: Muleskinner. A story set in 1844 on the Ohio Canal, about a 12-year-old mule driver's world turned upside down when a mysterious dog uncovers a box of secrets that lead the orphan to discover his past, escape indentured servitude, and find a sister he never knew he had. So many people are involved in helping me bring this work to life.
There is my local critique group: Tiffany Laufer, Vicki Selvaggio, Jean Daigneau, Judith Leisenring, Mary Ryan, Alison DeBroux and Eric Steinberg, the writing pal who first told me about the Backspace Writers Conference, who have encouraged me with this story, telling me it's my best one yet. There are my fellow writers like Jon Egan, Melissa Kline and Kathy Wiechman who helped me work out kinks in my outline. There is my canal expert Terry K. Woods, and author Marilyn Seguin whose writings about the Ohio and Erie Canal and whose advice and criticisms have strengthened my own story. There are my beta readers: 14-year-old critiquing phenom Nicole Fiorelli, Kathy Wiechman (again!), Marilyn Seguin (again!), Marcia Hoehne, and their incredibly insightful suggestions that I gleefully incorporated into my story, seeing how much stronger my final product became.
But I've only mentioned the people who've helped me write Muleskinner. Next comes the outside-the-comfort-zone part where you put your labor of love out there for people to judge. As I'm sure every published author knows, but I'm just beginning to find out, there's an entire network of people needed to SPREAD THE WORD about your book!
I'm taking a big chance with this, my third book. My first two books are still tucked safely away on my computer, awaiting life after creation. But Muleskinner, well, this book is special. I've felt from the beginning that this novel IS THE ONE. So I've decided to shake things up a little and travel to my first big NYC writing conference. The conference offers three scholarships for worthy stories. I entered Muleskinner in the contest. Of course it would be nice to win the scholarship, but the real draw is the chance to stand out in the minds of the agents who will select the scholarship winners. Obviously I want this opportunity very badly. So, I've got to get the votes.
I'm cajoling family, friends, acquaintances, begging on social media. Many wonderful people re-posted, voted, and spread the word. I even contacted a couple of canal organizations to see if they could mobilize their members to vote for it. The Ohio and Erie Canalway featured Muleskinner on its FB page, and plans to send out an e-mail blast to its mailing list next week. Metro Parks Serving Summit County tweeted its followers and plans to retweet periodically. I hope all this helps...
It's exhilarating watching the numbers go your way and agonizing watching the other entries pass yours. Every message I get from someone telling me they voted makes my heart swell with gratitude. My resulting roller coaster of emotions leaves me feeling drained. But putting my work out there is the right thing for me to do, now, with this story. There is nothing currently on the market like Muleskinner. So, I humbly ask for you to vote. Here's how you can help.
Go here. Click on the polling feature and vote for #63 Muleskinner through March 15, 2013. And thank you for joining me on this crazy journey. You are an integral part of the process.