This post is written to link with an online discussion at katemotaung.com on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today I’m posting on Chapter 6: Send- I want to publish what I write.
When I began reading this book and taking part in the discussion, I wanted to commit to writing something on every chapter, but as I looked through the list of topics, my initial thoughts were that this would be a chapter where I have nothing to say. Then as I reflected some more, I realised I do have a story, which, bizarrely, I’d never even considered when I was reflecting on my experience of writing at the start of this course.
In January, I received an email saying that a Christian magazine wanted to feature a case study on a schools ministry project I am involved with and asked if I could work together with someone to write the article. I was excited to receive this request, not so much because of the chance to write something that would be published, but because of the opportunity to share what we were doing and to inspire others doing similar work.
It was a whole new experience for me- we had a detailed brief about what should be included, there were guidelines for different sections, each with a set number of words, and there was a very tight deadline to get it done. I learned a lot through the whole process. We knew the reason we had been asked was our involvement in the project and that it had nothing to do with our writing skills, but we really wanted to do it well.
Writing this one article took longer than I would ever have imagined. First we had to work out the message we wanted to put across and the points we wanted to make. Then we put together a rough draft for the article before meeting to discuss it. I think we spent about three hours going over and over the different sections rewording bits, cutting out unnecessary words to keep it within the limits we had, playing around with alternative ways to phrase things to make sure it came across exactly as we intended.
Once we had what we felt was a finished article we sent it to a few others for feedback and received some suggestions for improving it further. When we finally submitted the article, we felt that we had made it the best we possibly could. As most of my writing has been journalling or in blog posts, it has never undergone that level of editing, and there was something very satisfying about presenting a piece of work which obviously wasn’t perfect, but was good as we felt we could make it.
I remember the sense of anticipation when the article finally came out and I went to a Christian bookshop with a friend to get a copy. The magazines were all on stands on the counter and the shop assistant was looking at us a little curiously as we went over to look at the magazines, probably with a bit more of a buzz and sense of purpose than the average customer. We started flicking through the pages, looking for the article… only to discover it wasn’t there!
There was a moment of panic, thinking that it hadn’t been included at all, but then we looked at the front cover and realised it was the previous edition, not the new edition which should have been out by that point. We asked when the next issue would be out and my friend started explaining that I had helped write an article in it. The shop assistant smiled, finally seeing the reason for our excitement, then opened a drawer under the counter and produced the correct edition! It was so rewarding to see it in print- and to see that our final version had hardly been edited at all. Even the shop assistant got quite interested by this point and wanted to read the article and talk about it some more.
As I said, the main thing that mattered to me was what we had written about and the fact that we were given the chance to tell people about that, but there was also a sense of achievement in having written something that was published.
As far as aiming to publish more of my writing goes, I am nowhere near that stage at the moment. Writing is something that I have always enjoyed but it is not something I have really put in the time and effort to develop and work on… until taking part in this book discussion over the last few weeks.
It is definitely stirring motivation in me to continue to write and to focus more on developing my skills. For now, I think the focus for me will be blogging, but I did enjoy my little taste of having a piece of writing published and, who knows, maybe this is something to look into more in the future.