Sunday, September 23, 2007

Taking Chances

Next week I'll be published in an exciting new market. I have wanted to be published here for some time... but I didn't really know how. I mean... real writers were published there. Real bloggers. People who blog for a living and are sometimes really brave and opinionated.

So of course I want to be there.

I'm talking about Pajamas Media.

Ever since I started reading blogs like Girl on the Right, Michelle Malkin I've spent some blogging time being equally horrified at some of the things written, and amazed at their bravery. (GOTR can be pretty offensive at times. Especially when she talks religion. She's basically a Canadian who wants to be an American.... and mad that she's not accepted. I mean what Canadian actually stands for the American anthem ... do Americans stand up with Oh, Canada is played?? No, standing for an anthem is respectful to your own country... unless you are at a hockey game, then it's respect for your opponent's team.)

Malkin has had her address published on the net and actually had to move because of it. I find her much less offensive... unlike GOTR, blogging and opining is her JOB.

So anyways... I have a blog that I update sort of infrequently, I've left most of my politics there. I hesitate to link to my blog because who knows what opinion I've put out there in the past that have changed. I have changed in the almost four years since I started it.

So I was reading Pajamas Media the other day when I realized that they didn't have any Canadian content... so I emailed them through their contact form to ask if they wanted some. They said yes, could they see clips.

I realized I had no political clips online... I didn't want to go through my old blog and use those... and I've shied away from writing politics (and religion) online because... well, I hate to be judged on my opinion because opinions can always change. So I sent him links to a few PDF clips I had, including my Shatner article.

He replied saying that he'd like me to pitch something to him. So I pitched three news items. He asked for one on spec.

Now I'm not big on spec articles. If they say no, I've just wasted my time. However, I spent about 45 minutes writing a 900 word article... that I figured could be a blog post on my politics blog if they said no. And the payment, which I asked about as well, was good enough to take a chance on.

They accepted it. It should run next week. It was about a Canadian politician who chose to go to the states for some medical treatment.

One half of me thinks that I'm just a lucky person. I queried 2 agents and one accepted me. We sold my first book proposal within 2 months. I got my first column through a fluke (the previous columnist died and it was offered to me!) and four of my regular writing gigs came about because I just emailed them and asked "do you want a writer?"

My husband, always the supporter, says that no... I'm just a good writer and I work at being at the right place at the right time. With Pajamas Media I just happened to notice the lack of Canadian political content, and I happened to know a few stories about Canadian politics that might interest a mostly American readership.

And I took a risk.

That's what queries are. Risks.

I talk to many writers who are breaking into writing and they fret about getting rejections or being told they aren't good enough. I hesitate to give advice because of that part of me that believes I'm just lucky. But in the end, I know I can give them advice about one thing. Just doing it... just asking for work, just sending an email to ask "do you want my writing?"

When you are surfing news sites or sites dedicated to your particular speciality, do you notice a hole? Do you see something missing? Could you write something more in-depth? Do you know something that they don't?

A big part of this is knowing yourself as a writer. Where is your strength? Can you write about a topic that few others can? For me, it's western performance horse sports... reining, working cow horse, cutting... for others it could be Coronation Street, physics, accounting, web design, American politics...

So, as my exFIL used to say... go on, git on yer bike.

1 comment:

Carolyn Erickson said...

Heck, you're soo right about this Heather. You just gave me a serious talking-to. I've been a nervous Nellie in certain categories. It takes all the fun out of writing, really!

On the other hand, I guess I'm not a total wimpo. In some situations, I have had no problems just popping off a quick email exactly like you described, and with good results. So I know what you said is true.

Onward and upward. Can't wait to see your story on the pajama blog!