My freelance writing career began with a poem that I never submitted. My father (also a writer) had sent it in on my behalf when I was 24. The interesting thing was, it was a poem I wrote at age 16. When the acceptance letter arrived, I thought, “Wow! If I can get something published that I wrote at age 16, what could I do now?”
I started pitching wildly. Guidelines? Queries? SASEs? I had no clue and didn’t want to ask my dad for help in case the rejections started piling up. Not surprisingly, they did. But for every stack with which I stoked my wood-burning stove, (Hey – Vermont’s a cold state and there’s something empowering about burning your rejection letters!) I also received an acceptance letter – and CHECKS.
I started a small writers group and asked my dad to come speak to us about getting published. It was the turning point in my writing career. The next day I contacted a local entertainment magazine and asked if I could have a few PAYING assignments. It worked.
Right before my 25th birthday, I moved to Colorado and immediately began contacting all the local publications for assignments. Within six months, I had written for nine PAYING publications. Writing for the city’s largest business newspaper turned into two years worth of assignments and I eventually came on board as the editor.
I’ve published more than 450 pieces and for four years have shared my Hard Knocks training by teaching “Breaking Into Freelance Writing.” Last year, at the age of 30, I was asked to teach my workshop at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference – the sixth largest writers conference in the country. I’ve just completed my second book deal with McGraw-Hill and am working on my third, The Writer’s Guide to Keeping Your Day Job. I’m grateful to my dad for getting me started so young. I figure I’ve got at least another 50 years to write!
Wendy Burt’s book, Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One (Contemporary/McGraw-Hill, April 2001) is available at most major bookstores and on www.BurtCreations.com. She has published more than 450 pieces, including pieces in Byline, American Fitness, Woman’s Own, and True Romance. She was also a contributing writer to In the Shadow Of Pikes Peak; An Illustrated History of Colorado Springs. Burt works as the editor of The Business Informant in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is the founder of Just C.A.W.S., the Creative Alliance of Women’s Support – a free support group for creative women that is now expanding into two other states. Her second book, The Hip Chick’s Guide to Loving 9 to 5 is due out in 2003.