So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Kathryn Byer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathryn Byer. Show all posts

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The biggest reason people don't write?

Feb 2020, my backyard. Has nothing to do with this blog post, but we do expect snow tomorrow.

What keeps people from writing? Fear.

For many, putting our thoughts and words on paper is terrifying. It is like pulling your heart out of your chest, handing it over to someone, and saying, “Do whatever you want with it. Smash it in the ground if you want. Throw it in the trash, chop it into little pieces and throw it away. But I hope you will love it and treat it with tenderness.”

Writing is a personal experience and not everyone can do it. Fear of what others might say about us and our writing is one of the largest challenges we face. We also have doubts about ourselves. I can’t really write. I’m not that good. Who am I to think I can write anything others would want to read?

I am sure that everyone who has written and shared what they wrote, had those self-doubts. We all second-guess ourselves. I know I have, and I still do at times. I have a short story I wrote 25 years ago, printed it out, edited it to death, and only let one person read it. I thought it was pretty good. But the one person who read it, when asked what she thought, said, “It was interesting, but I knew who was going to be the guilty one before you ever got to that last part.”

Why did that bring up all my self-doubts? Why did I put that story away with the promise that one day I would revise it and submit it? As writers we pour our hearts and souls into each poem, short story, non-fiction, or novel, and we never feel quite sure it will be accepted by readers.

Years ago, Kathryn Stripling Byer, the first female poet laureate of North Carolina, who had published many poetry books, won all kinds of awards, told me something I have remembered till this day. “No matter how many books I have published,” she said. “Each new manuscript I send to LSU Press (her press for many years) makes me as nervous as the first one I submitted. There is no guarantee they will like this one. There is no guarantee that it won’t be rejected.”

I was dumbfounded. I thought with her reputation and all the praise and outpouring of respect and love for her, she would be completely confident that anything she submitted would be grabbed up with joy. But, in the long run, no matter how famous, how many laurels one wins, we all still put on our pants one leg at the time the same as everyone else.

The words she confided in me made a huge difference in my thinking about what success is in the writing world. Although that short story I wrote twenty-five years ago has not seen the light of day, I am going to include it in my short story collection that I hope to submit or have published this year. In fact, I am digging back into my early writing and finding poems that I feared were not good enough to submit and including them in my next chapbook.

We must put fear behind us and realize that rejections are not personal indictments against us or our writing.

Editors have many reasons why they choose what they will publish. One of my poems, The Peach, was chosen for a literary journal simply because it brought back a memory to the editor. He said when he read it, he remembered how his mother would whip him with a peach tree switch when he was a little boy. He did not say the poem was good and he did not choose it because of its literary merit. He chose it because it brought back a memory from his childhood.

I learned not to count my rejections. Why should I? I count only the acceptances of my work. We don’t need or want to crow about our latest rejection, do we? But we shout out loud about the latest poem, short story or book acceptance. And we should.

We talked today on Mountain Wordsmiths about how we can promote our work during this pandemic. Book signings are scary for me, although some authors are out there meeting the people face to face. I am delighted that we have Zoom and can meet new people, share our work, and sell our books even though it is much harder to sell a book online.

I think we must stop counting the number of books sold at an event, and look at marketing our name, our faces and personalities online. I am not a huge social media person. I don’t have a smart phone welded to my hand and am annoyed by those who do. But, as a writer in today’s world, you must have a social media identity either on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or others. I use Facebook as my social media outlet. I tried others, but just don’t want to take the time to scroll through them all the time.

Did you know that scrolling is now considered as addictive as smoking once was? Someone dear to me admitted recently that she was afraid she was addicted to scrolling. What is it that hooks folks?

Anyway, if it helps promote your writing, you must take time for social media marketing every day. I post on three blogs and that has built me an audience in three countries – not big, but enough it satisfies me. I adore my blogger friends who always leave comments on my posts. I do the same for them.

The point of it all is we need and want to connect with others. When we share our writing, we feel a need to have someone validate us, read, and give us feedback that will encourage us without putting us down. We need to know where we could improve our work, but we don’t need someone insinuating we have no hope. Encourage and critique with kindness is the best way to help a writer. I know that because my mentor and teachers, Nancy Simpson and Carol Crawford did that for me.

In our discussion today on Zoom, the majority of us agreed that if only one person has benefited from our writing, we are a success. That is why our readers can make us very happy if they email or call as someone did today to tell me how much she has enjoyed Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins; Family Pets and God’s other Creatures. I don’t know if she bought it on Kindle, as a used book at the library, or purchased a brand-new paperback from Tigers in Hayesville, she made my day.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Read Robert S. King's post on three good ways to promote yourself

I often hear from writers and poets that they can't promote themselves. How sad. If they don't do it, who is?

Robert S. King wrote an excellent post on three ways to promote yourself.
Click here.

I am listed in the directory of Poets and Writers. It wasn't difficult to meet the qualifications. Robert tells you how in this article.

I have been remiss in not using You Tube for my readings, etc. Many times I've watched videos of Kathryn Stripling Byer because someone in the audience videoed her reading. Robert would like to see all the Netwest readings videoed and I think I'll look into it for myself. Although I wouldn't want to watch myself, I think it could be good publicity.

Tipper Presley did teach me how to upload a video of deer in the snow outside my window. I'll see if I can remember how to put it in this post.

Robert S. King will be teaching a class at Moss Memorial Library on Saturday, April 20,10 - 1 PM. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Poem by Felicia Mitchell on Kathryn's blog

Another sharing to my readers and friends.

Read this most beautiful and touching poem on Kathryn Byer's blog.

I am happy to know of Felicia Mitchell.  Now I want to read more of her poetry.

What do you think of this poem?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We had fun in Sylva, City Lights Books, Coffee with the Poet

We had a great time in Sylva at Coffee with the Poet. Six contributors to Celia Miles' and Nancy Dillingham's Women's Spaces Women's Places read poems, short stories and essays. Kathryn Byer, a contributor to the anthology, hosted the event.  Newton Smith, treasurer for Netwest, was back in the country after a trip to Italy, and present today.
The room was filled with writers, poets and friends of writers. Jennifer McGaha read her piece from the anthology on the subject of running. I was happy to see Martha O'Quinn from Henderson County and JC Walkup, editor and publisher from Canton, NC. JC has the funniest story in this anthology. We laughed out loud as she read about buying bath towels in an upscale shop, one that did not display price tags.

Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham hold copies of their book
I was on the far right side, but cut myself out of photo. My eyes were closed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paid Vacation? Cut short my pity party

I left my calendar blank this week because I had planned to take Rocky, resident dog at Writers Circle, and head north for a few days of vacation before the weather turns too cold.
But vet bills for Rocky and Tiger changed my plans. I went from plan A to plan B.
I would stay home and I would not make appointments. Leave your days free, I told myself. Use this free time to write, to take those ideas prompted by Maureen's class Saturday and create poetry or essays or short fiction. Work on those projects that have been floating around in your head.
As you know, if you are a writer, a home retreat is impossible. It is especially impossible for me at this time.  For weeks I've been working toward making an office upstairs. The painting has been done. The furniture is in place, but the boxes filled with papers, books, and who knows what else, are piled up against my dining room wall. I am determined not to fill my nice neat office with clutter - at least not right now.
Today I handled paper all day. I'm glad I finally opened all those envelopes from the Insurance companies. My first inclination was to toss them because I thought they were just those Explanation of Benefits showing what doctors had been paid.
But, some of them actually contained checks. Wow! I was paid for opening all those envelopes. That helped end my pity party.
So, my vacation has turned into a working week after all. Still have three more loads of laundry, more boxes to go through, blinds to order for the windows, shopping to do and only when it is late at night do I find the time to write a post for this blog.

I am happy however, to hear that Kathryn Byer is posting a poem of mine on her new site, The Mountain Woman. Hop over there and read it. Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Launch Party for Echoes Across the Blue Ridge

Although I am wiped out from my busy weekend, I can't sleep just yet.

Kathryn Byer and City Lights Books threw a great Book Launch Pary for Echoes Across the Blue Ridge today. A large group of Netwest members, contributors to the anthology, and guests arrived around five o'clock to sign books, to have their books signed, to meet and greet and drink champagne.

I stayed busy most of the time giving out the complimentary copies to members, signing up new members for NCWN, and helping our contributors purchase extra books. City Lights Books, (Chris) was most helpful by running the member discounted books through his store. That saved me from having to figure sales tax and handle change. I was relieved because I was not prepared to do that.

Everyone seemed to have a great time. Spring Street Cafe served a nice spread and kept the platters filled and the glasses full. I fully recommend that restaurant. I had dinner there Saturday night and ate the most wonderful pasta dish with shrimp, artichokes, black olives, and a scrumptious olive oil and wine sauce. I cleaned my plate except for the olives, which I'm not too fond of in anything. That sauce was to die for and I understand they use it in other pasta dishes on the menu.

My hat is off to Kay Byer. She is program coordinator for NCWN West and handled this big party like a pro. Thanks, Kay.