Daily Archives: August 4, 2012

N is for Non-Fiction

Chicago Tribune building

Chicago Tribune building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What I like about non-fiction is that it covers such a huge territory. The best non-fiction is also creative.” Tracy Kidder

I have struggled for years trying to produce something worthwhile in novel length. I have had a little success with publishing a short story but most of my success has been with non-fiction. Years ago, when I first got the urge to write, there was a request for a columnist in my local newspaper, The Altoona Herald. I picked up a book on magazine and article writing and decided to give it a shot.  I wrote a couple of ‘slice of life’ articles about me and my family. It was about the same time that Connie Chung got in trouble for an interview that was supposed to be ‘Just between Us’ that she shared with the public. I decided to name my column ‘Just Between Us’.   Dropped my examples off at the newspaper office and waited anxiously for a while. Eventually after several weeks, I gave up deciding that maybe I wasn’t quite ready.

About a year later, while I was having dinner with the family, I got a phone call from the editor of The Altoona Herald who said that the last editor had left and they’d found my articles in a stack on her desk. She wanted to know if I was still interested. I accepted the offer as calmly as I could and then after hanging up the phone did my happy dance.

Granted The Altoona Herald wasn’t The Chicago Tribune or even The Des Moines Register which is the largest paper in my area but it is owned by Gannett, just like The Des Moines Register, so I was pretty happy.

The editor said my writing reminded her of Erma Bombeck. I was thrilled.  I wrote for them for about a year while I worked full time and raised my kids. It was during that time in your life where you feel you have no life. When I wasn’t working, I was driving the kids to baseball practice and games, dance lessons and recitals and also going to school part time at the area community college. Something had to give, especially since I’d become involved in a couple local writer’s groups and really wanted to write a novel.

I have since written a monthly article for ‘Women’s Edition’ magazine. Looking back both opportunities came fairly easily. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do but it boosted my confidence. By this time, I’d had three different editors think my work was worth publishing.

Write what you love but don’t miss a chance to write something that is non-fiction. You can get a taste for working with an editor, meeting deadlines, and the thrill of seeing your name in print.

Now go out there and write something.


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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in writing


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