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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Surrounding myself with Talented People:

I've been blessed with very talented people in my life.  Not just other writers either.
As a matter of fact I would say the majority of my successes in life have come as a realization of the talents of others.

I have that awesome aspiration to imitate those who inspire me.  I've been lucky to have inspiring people all around me at every step.
My father returned to complete his education when he had three kids and was dealing with a failed business venture.  I remember him working nights and going to school all day.  He even took me and let me color in a book while his professors lectured about the mental state of man (he has a Ph.D. in psychology now).  Guess where I aspired to attend my post High School years?  The same University.  I had to transfer after two years at a community college to finally get accepted, but it happened.

My husband's family are astounding singers.  All of them!  Singing is something I'm terrible at.  I can't remember lyrics and staying on beat as well as in tune are beyond my understanding.  I don't know how his family all managed such skill, but they don't hold my lack of skill against me.  No matter the song filled environment they have always smiled and nodded at my efforts to follow along.  I haven't signed up for any choirs or public performances, but I have made an effort to be less concerned about my inability.  No idea if I've actually improved- because again- I'm pretty much tone-deaf (and beat deaf if there is such a thing) where singing is involved.  Still, the talented people around me have inspired me to not give up.

Writing:  My first effort at following through on a story idea came from a local man who did just that.  He wrote and illustrated a children's book, found a company to print it out for him, and asked some local stores to carry it for a percentage of the sales.  Wow!  I thought.  That's something a real person did.  A real person from a nowhere town and with no substantial writing connections, just like me! 

I started doing some research and put a community outreach class on writing I had taken years back to use.  At the time of taking the class I felt I learned a lot about method of writing, but nothing about the practicality of what you do after you write something.  The 'what now?' aspect when you want to try to make your hobby legitimate. 

My effort happened to be a children's book.  Nice, simple...  Crud, I can't draw worth beans! 
Once again I was inspired by other talented people.  My sister had once won an elementary school contest for a picture she created out of fabric.  Since I am a terrible seamstress and happen to have tons of fabric scraps due to failed sewing projects I called my sister.  She graciously permitted me to rip off her award winning illustrating idea.  I made a template out of cardstock and cut out zillions of little hippo pieces.  I stuck the images to paper and scanned the effort into my computer. 
Result:  Not what I had imagined when the idea first popped into my head...  But, it seemed 'good enough' for my first try.  I never claimed to be a perfectionist.  As a matter of fact, if I suffered from perfectionism I doubt I would ever accomplish anything- there isn't one thing in my home that is done to perfection.

More research came next.  And more talented people.  They are everywhere!  People skilled at layout, cover design, and industry standards.  Actually they make a profession out of knowing these things.  They may come at a cost, but their lives are dedicated to the industry of literature.  I was happy for their guidance, since I was stuck at that point anyway- and they came with credentials and references.  Phew!  No one said surrounding yourself with talented people didn't include professionals. 

First project done!  But, marketing is not a strength of mine either.  I'm working on building from other's marketing examples.  I even pedaled my book to local stores!  It hasn't sold much, but how many people are really looking for a book about a high spirited hippo "O. Potamus" in a town with a population of 1800 while in the middle of a recession? 

I'm actually impressed with myself for not giving up at any of the sticking points. 
There aren't many people in my life's experience that let hiccups hold them back.  I consider that a talent to glean from once again. 

I'm working on additional projects.  There seems to be endless sticking points.  Editing is my biggest hurdle.  Illustrations are still a challenge.  The smooth prose that come naturally to others seem to be a nasty afterthought in my writing.  My brain seems unable to realize not everyone has the imagery I am conjuring already set in their mind. 

I am continuing to draw from the talented examples that surround me to improve and if nothing else keep trying.



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