When something stops your courage to create

Bison in middle of road in CanadaYou know the feeling. For some reason you are simply unable to think of creating  anything fresh whatever your art or type of creation. Your mind is mostly blank.

The first time in my writing career I ran headlong into this problem was when I wrote an article for a then large syndication company. I had been writing about single parenting for my one and only two-paper self-syndicated column about single parenting.

I dared a query

I wrote a query letter enclosing half a dozen of the published pieces and offered the column to the syndicate for publication. I was hoping to become the Dear Abbey of Single Parenting. I got a note from an editor asking me to send over a sample for him. It took a couple of days to write, rewrite and polish the sample which I sent off with much hope.

I never expected a call from the Editor I’d sent my article to.

My concrete charm?

He said something like this: “Anne, the reason I asked you to write this piece is because I want it in your concrete charm, not this tepid article you sent. Want to try again?”

I mumbled ‘yes’ and when I hung up I knew I was in trouble. I dimly realized that he thought enough of my writing or ability to give me a second chance which was great. But I had absolutely no  idea what he meant by my ‘concrete charm.’

Random mental images ran through my mind of trucks with large revolving drums carrying concrete to construction sites and barely clear memories of my father emptying a bag of dusty concrete into something where he proceeded to add water with a hose and mix the mess with a hoe. I paced my studio apartment and tossed and turned for several nights.

I was afraid that I’d loose this chance if I didn’t figure out exactly what my concrete charm was.

Someplace it occurred to me to read the new article he’d rejected and at least one of the samples that had been published in a local newspaper.

I felt rather stupid because I had no idea why I should do such a thing, but I lacked any other ideas so I did just that.

Although there was nothing wrong with the new article I’d written for the editor I  began to notice it was very different from the sample, so I read another sample, and another.

I discovered I had a voice

Slowly a dim light began to dawn.  The published articles had a much lighter tone than the one I had worked so hard on for the editor. It took another day or two to realize what he wanted was the style of voice I’d already developed for the published columns.

It was hard to believe because that voice was, and is, relatively easy for me. I began to rewrite the new one in my usual style. In truth I had never at, that point in my writing career, thought I had a particular voice, but the editor had recognized it and called it ‘concrete charm.’

It was a month before I heard from him again. This time he told me how much he liked the rewrite and how sure he was that it would garner a decent response but it didn’t. He was sorry, and so was I.

A huge win

It was a huge win for me in any event because he strengthened my confidence in my writing – always a good thing.

I think the lessons for me were two: Don’t be afraid to stretch and try something new with your creations, And be willing, even grateful for constructive criticism. He really gave me a boost when I needed it.

Write and create often,

Anne Wayman's, freelance writer, signature






Photo by Yann Allegre on Unsplash

This article was written by annew43

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