Freelance Writing, A New Publishing Model, and Haiku (Or, What I Learned in Nashville)

VanderbiltYesterday I wrote a post about my adventures in Nashville.  Today, I'm writing about what you really want to know more on, some of the writing activities I partook of.  Wait, that's a poorly constructed sentence, with that dangling participle.  Today, I'm writing about the writing activities about which you want to learn more.  Technically correct, but a bit high-faluting.  Well, let's just get to it.

The Writer's Loft

To refresh your memory, I travel to Nashville twice a year, in September and January, to participate in the certificate writing program sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University, the Writer's Loft.  It's a program modeled on the brief-residency MFAs that are so popular now, and in the words of the Loft's founder, Roy Burkhead, it's "MFA lite." (By the way, Roy's editing a cool literary magazine that I contribute to called 2nd and Church–check it out.)The program offers weekend orientations during which students hear lectures and workshops on all aspects of writing, and meet with their mentors after which, students go forth and do what they should be doing–write.

This year, I presented a lecture at the Loft on Scene and Structure, a variation on one of the sessions of my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  It was an information dense hour and a half, let me just say, so much so that I feared my student's heads might explode.  They graciously refrained from allowing this to happen, however.  I also sat in on a variety of other presentations, two in particular that I want to highlight here.

Freelance Writing

Writer Jennifer Chesak spoke on freelance writing and got me all inspired about it again.  She went through the basics of getting started, establishing relationships with editors, and so on.  Jennifer recommends starting with querying on small articles that would go in the news sections at the front of magazines and working your way up.  When I graduated from journalism school a gazillion years ago, I got married and had babies right away and so working at a newspaper was something that never happened for me.  But I did begin free-lancing and did it off and on for years, until I went back to school for my MFA and began doing more teaching and coaching.  But listening to Jennifer made me want to have another go at it, so I'm now on the lookout for ideas. 

A New Publishing Model

VPWebsiteBannerClassic-600x230Jennifer has also begun an innovative publishing company that intrigues me. It's called Wandering in the Words Press and here's how it works: it's submission-based, so you submit your work and go through a vetting process.  When Jennifer selects your novel or memoir for publication, you pay her for the editing process, either upfront, or through your royalties.  She not only edits, but creates you a website, and assists with marketing.  And the royalties are good–50%.  This is a very similar arrangement to my publisher, Vagabondage, though I didn't pay any fees to them for editing or anything else.  What I like about it is that you get all the benefits of indie publishing but there's still some quality control, which is often lacking in self publishing.  It's worth checking out.

Haiku

Another one of the workshops which captured my attention was Aaron Shapiro's on writing Haiku.  He went through the rules of writing Haiku, gave us some visual prompts and let us have at it.  Okay, okay, if you insist, I'll share my brilliance with you:

Past his given time
Absolutwade_model_wasp_255102_l

Fading days of a short life

A bee in winter.

This was my ode to the bee that appeared in my Portland bathroom at 4 AM as I was getting ready to catch my plane to Nashville.  What I liked about the Haiku writing was the idea that you could play around with it as a warm-up to writing.  Or when you're blocked, or don't know what to write but want to write something.

So that was what I learned in Nashville.  But I also want to give a shout-out to the Living Writer's Collective, this amazing group of writers in Spring Hill, about a half-hour away from Nashville (in which direction, I'm still not entirely certain).  I had the great good fortune to speak to them on Thursday night before the Loft orientation began and I loved it.  What a great group of writers–not a wanna-be in the bunch.  All of them, as far as I could tell, were actually engaged in the work of putting words on the page.  They were a friendly and welcoming group, also, and if you live in the area, check them out.  Thanks, guys, for having me!

And I think that is quite enough from me for the moment.  What have you learned of heard or read about writing lately?  Comment, please.

Images:

The top image is one I took on the Vanderbilt campus, which is serving as a stand-in for MTSU.  They are two very different beasts, but oh well.

I snitched the Vagabondage Press image for the website.

The bee is by Mordac.

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17 Comments on "Freelance Writing, A New Publishing Model, and Haiku (Or, What I Learned in Nashville)"

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Karen Phillips
Guest
Karen Phillips
01/26/2013 06:43

Thank you, Charlotte, for this post. I’m sharing it with the LWC as soon as I post my comment. As a member of the LWC, I have already seen the effect you’ve had on several of us. We are marching onward toward our writing goals and casting fears aside. Thank you so much for coming to speak to us. Please come back!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/26/2013 07:42

I loved your Living Writer's Collective so much!  I'll be back for sure, as long as you guys will have me.  I was really impressed with the group.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/26/2013 11:19

Thanks, Karen–I think you guys inspired me as much as I inspired you!  I feel like I have a whole new set of friends in the Spring Hill area and that means a lot to me.  I really wish I could come to your presentation on Elance this week.  Good luck with all your writing.

Karen Aldridge
Guest
Karen Aldridge
01/26/2013 08:53

Thank you so much for mentioning Living Writers Collective, Charlotte. I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to Nashville and enjoyed meeting the writers at LWC. I think we all were motivated by your presentation, and I, for one, stepped out of my fear box and started submitting. We are in the southern part of Middle Tennessee, about thirty minutes straight south of Nashville. I hope we see you next time you come to Nashville–I look forward to getting Emma Jean, and I’m going to need you to sign it when you come to town.

Karen Aldridge
Guest
Karen Aldridge
01/26/2013 08:54

Thank you so much for mentioning Living Writers Collective, Charlotte. I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to Nashville and enjoyed meeting the writers at LWC. I think we all were motivated by your presentation, and I, for one, stepped out of my fear box and started submitting. We are in the southern part of Middle Tennessee, about thirty minutes straight south of Nashville. I hope we see you next time you come to Nashville–I look forward to getting Emma Jean, and I’m going to need you to sign it when you come to town.

Amber Hart
Guest
Amber Hart
01/26/2013 12:30

Listening to you talk about your own fears and obstacles (with your published book beside you) was seriously motivating. My neighbor, a first time visitor to LWC, said that your talk gave her inspiration to get to her writing.
I needed this talk… and I needed it to come from someone as genuine and caring as you. Thank you again!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/26/2013 12:37

Amber, if you could see me, I'm clutching my heart at this comment.  Thank you so much!  Nothing makes me happier than knowing that maybe in some small way I've helped someone get words on the page.  I loved meeting you and look forward to reading your pages!

Melissa Marsh
Guest
01/26/2013 17:31
It sounds like such a great time, Charlotte. I think I would like to do that sometime – an entire weekend to just devote to writing. There is a summer writing conference here in my city (UNL Summer Writing Conference) but it is usually very pricey. Still, might be worth a look this summer if I can swing it. What have I learned about writing lately? That I am constantly on a roller coaster of emotions – self-doubt, lack of confidence, etc., etc. I am re-reading Stephen Pressfield’s book on Resistance and writing (The War of Art) and trying to… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/26/2013 17:38

I think it happens to all of us with regularity, Melissa.  It's crazy-making, but we writers are a sensitive bunch.  I think you're smart to return to that Pressfield book–it's a good one.  And yes, check out that writer's conference, they can be incredibly energizing!

Patty/Living Deep Studio
Guest
01/26/2013 21:33

Oh, I wanna be in a collective. The word just embodies so much for me, something I think is rare these days. Clearly they are smitten with you! Such a joy to read their comments and imagine you there with them.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/27/2013 07:03

I love that word, too, whoever named the group did well!  Collective has so much more of an encompassing feel to it, doesn't it?  And I am just as smitten with them!

Zan Marie
Guest
01/27/2013 07:37

I love your Haiku! That’s perfect. And I just realized how close I am to Nashville. Someday, I’ll have to find a way to come and play, too. ; )

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/27/2013 08:02

Ooh, come meet me in Nashville some time! That would be so fun! And thanks for the compliment on my Haiku, 

Melissa Marsh
Guest
01/28/2013 08:06

Well shoot. I just looked up the info for that conference and they are on hiatus this year. Darn it. May just have to take a weekend and go somewhere with no Internet!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/28/2013 09:46

Can I tempt you with a retreat in France in September?  Heeheehee.  That's probably a bit farther than you wanted to go!  There are lots of great writer's conferences and retreats going on all around the country and the world–I'm sure you'll find one that will work for you.

Suzanne Robertson
Guest
Suzanne Robertson
01/31/2013 14:09

Charlotte Rains Dixon
Inspiration royale
And lots of fun, too.

(I’m a sucker for Haiku, don’t you know!) The LWC sounds extremely cool, btw. 🙂

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/31/2013 14:12

Ah yes, Suzanne, I often tell people about our month-long correspondence conducted entirely in Haiku.  I wish I still had some of those emails, they were hysterical!
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Freelance Writing, A New Publishing Model, and Haiku (Or, What I Learned in Nashville) – Charlotte Rains Dixon

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