Looking at My Writing Path: Where Will a New Twist Take Me?

What have I been working on the past week or so? Getting started on another branch of my writing path, that’s what.

I haven’t talked about it here, because it’s one of those I-might-jinx-it-if-I-say-it-out-loud things. Or maybe one of those once-I-put-it-in-print-I’ll-look-pretty-foolish-if-it-doesn’t-go-anywhere things. Or a goals-are-just-something-that-don’t-happen things. Yeah. One of those.

But if this blog is about the writing path, and if I’m exploring a new curve in the path, well–I’m supposed to post about it, right.

So, saying it out loud: In the next few months, I will query about and/or write several nonfiction articles for children’s magazines and get them out the door.

One of the things I really want to add to my repertoire is more nonfiction for children. I had a great time writing The Everything Kids’ Grow Up to Be a Police Officer Book with Lee Lofland, even if the economy crash did cause the publisher to pull it from the publishing list, and I’m also happy with Cool Cash Adventure, a guide to finance that I wrote for middle-grade kids. As I do more research, I’m learning lots of stuff that won’t fit into my novels, and I still want to use it–to share it. Plus, let’s face it, I want to write for kids.

So those are the main reasons for the goal, and I think they’re pretty good. Which means the next step is to do something about getting there. I’ve looked around at publishers of nonfiction books, and I’ve sent off samples that I do have to some job postings. Realistically,though, I’m pretty sure I need more samples and better ones–more targeted at the kind of writing these publishers want to see. Which means, I think, kids’ magazines.

So I’ve got a stack, and I’m collecting a few more. I’ve downloaded writers’ guidelines and editorial calendars. The last couple of days, I’ve skimmed through the magazines, looking for the types of articles I’d like to write. I’ve got a growing list of ideas with notes about which magazine they might fit best, and whether I’m supposed to query first or just send the article. The next step, I’m pretty sure, is to pick an idea and target the magazine (or two) for an article (or two). Then I find a similar article and really read it, breaking it down in terms of content, structure, and voice.

Then I write.

The challenge? It’s not really the dissecting or writing–I’m pretty good at both of those, and–if I’m honest with myself–this is something I can do and do well. The challenge is reminding myself of that, keeping up my level of confidence for something new, for venturing into a place in the writing world where they don’t know me yet, where I have to prove myself. Yes, I do this every day in my fiction, but–as you all know–that’s long-term proof. I have a heckuva lot of writing on this novel before I submit it for judgment. And the other challenge is doing it. Putting the nonfiction writing on my calendar, showing up at the computer, writing & revising, and following through on all that with actual submissions. Juggling this writing with my fiction, with my editing, with…oh, life.

Commitment.

Is this important to me? Yes. Is it something I will enjoy? Yes. Will this route be a good addition to my writing path, bringing a smattering of daisies and maybe a four-leaf clover or two? Yes.

So…time to get started.

What about you? Is there something you’re exploring that you haven’t yet (quite) committed to, that you’ve been skating around? Can you see the first step or two ahead of you, waiting for you to put them on your to-do list? What’s coming next for you on your writing path?

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9 thoughts on “Looking at My Writing Path: Where Will a New Twist Take Me?

  1. In your quest to get non-fiction for kids published, don’t forget newspapers. The Washington Post has a page written specifically for kids: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/print/kidspost/

    What have I been exploring but not quite commited to yet? Lately I’ve been entertaining the possibility of writing mystery short stories – for adults. (I think my venture into PBs got me craving a dive into edgier fiction.) I’ve subscribed to Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock and am having a lot of fun reading new work in the genre. A few story ideas are starting to take shape in my writing journal, but no finished projects yet.

    I’m still working on my mg novel rewrite — just finished a new chapter. These new mystery story explorations seem to be helping the novel project, rather than distracting me from it as one might expect. Perhaps all the extra plotting is giving a too flabby portion of my brain much-needed exercise. Now I can work faster, harder, and longer. 🙂

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    • beckylevine says:

      Sometimes, I think filling up our plates a little more makes us get more productive. That’s on the days that it doesn’t make us crazy. I love seeing someone else trying all these different things–makes me think I might not be the only one out there doing loop-de-loops! 🙂

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      • That can be true, but the picture book writing I started in September didn’t quite generate the same effect. Perhaps the chunk of my brain that drives long first-draft narratives derails somewhat when I concentrate so much energy into weighing each word. That, and thinking in pictures, which makes me want to spend more time drawing.

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  2. YAY for writing nonfiction!

    (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?)

    What’s is store for me? All I can think about right now is just finishing this revision. And then it’s family time and holiday time. Though there’s another story burbling away in the back of my brain, and another intriguing possibility lurking in the filing cabinet. And another off-the-wall idea that’s calling my name, too. I’m putting on the ear muffs, though, until this revision is done.

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    • beckylevine says:

      I could have guessed. Finding your book (THE PERFECT RED, for anyone who wants to read brilliant NF!) was like an eye-opener for how this genre should and can be written.

      Keep those ideas burbling and enjoy the ear-muff time, too!

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  3. Interesting reading this post, because writing nonfiction was first for me, coming to fiction was second–and seemed much more scary. It really felt like I was jumping off a diving board and had no idea how deep the water was. Writing about something REAL has always been easier, perhaps that’s why I’m writing historical fiction. ANyway, I am sure you will find some fits for your ideas and the magazines that are looking for quality material. thanks for sharing your journey.

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    • beckylevine says:

      Carol, I’ve definitely shifted from ALL fiction in my life to SOME nonfiction–so this is a change for me. Good luck with all your writing. 🙂

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