It is my pleasure to present the first guest blogger in the Unlikely Teachers Series. I love her articles and couldn’t wait to see what she wrote for the series. To say the least, she did not disappoint. Please welcome Ruth Schiffmann.
Take it away, Ruth!
As a writer, I’m always relating everyday occurrences to the business of writing. So I was happy to find here at Sarah’s blog, that she does the same thing. After all, everything is more enjoyable when we can pull meaning from it.
Dogs: I love my dogs. Really, I do. But there are times when they make me want to run screaming to some place where dog breath is not the dominant fragrance and my every move isn’t measured by the speed at which they wag their tails. Each evening, when I sit down, the crinkle of the leather sofa gives me away, and they come running. After the obligatory head scratching and belly rubbing, I throw my hands up and announce that I’m done. But they continue to beg, guilt, and manipulate me with those eyes while clawing their way into my lap.
Lesson: Don’t be annoying. If I can get so easily put off with my two adorable doggies, (who I love. Really, I do) then imagine how annoying we can be to editors or agents who don’t even know us, (or how loveable we are.) When waiting to hear on a submission, the last thing I want to be is a nuisance. I assume stated response times are estimates and if a follow-up is in order, I always try to error on the side of patience.
Dogs: Every morning as soon as they’ve eaten, both dogs run for the door. The Portuguese Podengo is in such a hurry to get outside, that he repeatedly rams his head into the screen door in the few seconds it takes me to open it. This happens Every. Day. At this point, I’m thinking he’s brain damaged from all of that head bashing.
Lesson: Don’t bang your head against a wall. When I’m stuck on a project, it’s pointless to make myself work on it just for the sake of working on it. Instead, I pull up another project. Even if it’s not one I’m in any hurry to finish. Even if it’s one that I’m not going to get paid for. Even if it’s just writing a post for my blog. Because getting words down on the page for something is better than bashing your head against the door, (or desk) for nothing.
Dogs: My dogs get antsy, prancing back and forth and perfecting their low, gravely growls, before I even hear the mail truck. They come charging down the stairs to gape at the door before I hear my daughter’s car in the driveway. They stand in the doorway to the bedroom if I’ve stayed up past my normal bedtime. Their senses are heightened and they know what’s going on, often before I do.
Lesson: Trust your instincts. Researching markets is a must, but when you’ve gathered all of the writers’ guidelines and checked the publisher’s editorial calendars, sometimes what it comes down to is an unexplainable “knowing” where to send a story or article. Develop that. Value it. And trust it.
Do you have cute, cuddly, or irritating dogs? What have they taught you about writing?
Ruth Schiffmann is happiest when she’s writing with her dogs quietly curled up at her feet. More than a hundred and fifty of her stories, articles, essays and poems have appeared in publications both online and in print. She’s currently working on a picture book and a contemporary YA novel. To read more of her work, visit www.RuthSchiffmann.com or follow her blog at http://outonalimbshywritergoessocial.blogspot.com.