If at First....

Greetings from Michigan. People here are complaining about the heat. Compared to South Carolina, it's delightful. Humidity at 50% here is very different from 80% or more. In South Carolina in the summertime I step out the door to get the morning paper and I need another shower. As Michigan writer, Jim Harrison, says: “Summer in Michigan is just three months of bad sledding.”

I began in the middle of the story. Traveling provides moments that make stories. There are snippets that might turn into poetry. I found ancestors' graves on the Internet. Across more than a century the silence of the forest around their graves spoke to me of those who plowed unturned earth with only horse or mule power and a child who died before he took his first step. A driver cut me off somewhere in Ohio. A police car right behind me put a swift end to that driver's fun. There's a story there.

But for now I must set aside the stories and put on my editor's cap. The judges have made their decisions on submissions to The Petigru Review. Acceptances and rejections will be going out shortly. Some storytellers and poets will be thrilled, and some will be disappointed. I've been on both sides—receiving rejections and sending them—I understand how difficult judging and editing are.

Rejection is part of the process that makes us better writers. Really. I know no matter what the outcome, all of you will continue telling your stories. If your work is rejected by TPR send it to another market. Keep submitting.

I think a great way to hone your craft and learn about the business of writing is to attend the SCWW conference: The Method, the Market & the Muse.

You can find information at http://myscww.org/conference/

The first conference I attended a few years ago was eye-opening. I felt I was given private lessons on how professional authors and editors and agents work. I made connections with local writers, and from there I found the SCWW. The critique process still makes me nervous, but I have learned how to be a better writer and editor. The conference slush-fests are amazing. I saw how important it is to grab a reader with the first line. Since the slush-fest manuscripts are evaluated anonymously, writers can sit back and pretend aloofness.

Members of the faculty are approachable and willing to engage with conference attendees. At one conference an editor sat down with me and worked with my manuscript. I learned important self editing skills and gained insight into editing TPR anthology.

The moral: If we want to be published storytellers, we must learn the craft and the business of writing. A great way to do that is attend the conference.

I'll see you all at the conference.

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