In the past few months I’ve gotten writing assignments that I didn’t have to grovel for! This to me is the true sign of success — but it hasn’t always been that way. The reason people are now calling me or emailing me is because I reached out to them first.
Just last week I read an article in a local paper about a woman who’d dated a yoga teacher, who turned out to be a jerk. I loved the humour, and thought the writer did a great job of telling an original story, having a very unique point of view and writing clearly. It was one of those times that I thought, ‘Wow, I wonder if people get this excited when they read some of my work.’ I sure hoped so.
I wondered what else this particular writer had written, so I ‘googled’ her and found her website. Not much in the way of information about her, so I sent her a short email and told her how much I enjoyed her piece. I also told her a little bit about myself, and the kind of writing I do. I sent the email on Friday, and by Saturday morning I had a response. It read: “Wow – I’m very flattered by your email! I write on a freelance basis too, but also work part- time at [her employer] as the Assistant to the Entertainment Department. If you want to submit articles you can always send them to me and I will forward them to the appropriate person.”
I’ve always wanted to write for this particular publication, but haven’t had any luck with my queries. Now, thanks to one email I’d sent to someone, I’d opened a door for myself. All it took was my effort to contact this person, not because I wanted something from them, but because I was reaching out to a fellow writer and thanking them for the gift of their story.
I feel that all of my success has come from putting myself out in the community. I do lots of volunteer work at literary events; I attend workshops, readings and book launches; and I have memberships to writing organizations like PEN Canada, The Scarborough Arts Council and the League of Canadian Poets, and I’m on some of their committees.
Another way to remind people that I’m a writer is by writing to them. I send handwritten thank you notes to workshop teachers that inspire me, send birthday cards to mentors, and send cards and flowers to people who help me in my day-to-day life.
Last month I got an incredible contract via PEN Canada. A member was trying to help a friend who was responsible for hiring a copywriter for a very special assignment. But the friend didn’t have any contacts in the literary community. Turns out my name came up! Now, I’m one week away from handing in the story. And if they like this story, I’ll be assigned another one. PEN knew me as a writer, because every once in a while I send them an email asking if they know of any writing gigs.
I’d like to share the words that my 82-year old Cuban friend spoke to me, two years ago, when I told him about my writing frustrations and my writing failures: “If you want something, whatever it is, ask other people for help. With others’ help you WILL become successful”. Now, Roberto’s wisdom helps me strive for success, each and every day.
Susana Molinolo is a freelance writer, poet, producer, marathon runner, and triathlete. Her travel writing, poems, editorial, Q&As and book reviews have been published in such publications as: NOW Magazine, Runners’ Times, Surface & Symbol, etc…news, Women’s Post, and Taddle Creek Magazine. She was producer/writer for the CTV Sportsnet magazine-style show, The Running Zone, and the music video Do You Believe in Love for Director Brian Gahan. In 2003 she received a grant to complete her second poetry manuscript, Urban Lust. Her first collection, in the direction of yourself, is currently with a publisher. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org