Thursday, July 12, 2012

Meet Theresa Leschmann, Author, Part 2

So after getting my feet wet with personal correspondence and some pieces in the local paper, I was itching for somewhere else to test my skills. It wasn’t too much later that I talked to Tammy Morris, a longtime friend about the online writing she did. She was writing for several content sites and beginning to make a little money at it and encouraged me to give it a try. 

I began writing articles for several content sites and while writing news, articles and how-to’s is radically different than writing fiction, the experience helped develop me as a writer. Not only did my writing improve because of the increase in volume I was turning out, I met a wonderful community of people I had never known existed. Writers are for the most part, a very helpful and non-competitive group of coworkers. 

One of the sites I wrote for sponsored a flash fiction writing contest. We were to write something from a prompt and keep it under 1000 words, I believe. I entered the contest and didn’t even earn an honorable mention but my whistle had been whetted. By this time, I had found several other local friends who were also writers. We agreed to start doing writing prompts together and began critiquing each other’s work. The feedback was by and large positive but even when it was negative, it helped me learn and grow as a writer. I used a series of those prompts to help me begin a novel I had been mulling over for a while and I was hooked on writing fiction. 

I also turned out a few more short stories and posted some online where they languished in undiscovered obscurity. That’s okay. I didn’t expect to be an overnight success then, any more than I do now. The novel idea got shelved as I was drawn more and more into content writing for the immediate financial reward it provided. And I was a little unsure of myself as a fiction writer. 

In 2010, a group of friends and I all decided to enter NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – an event held every November where you chain yourself to your computer and try to churn out 50,000 words by the end of the month in an effort to write a novel. It has to be something new, not something you have already started. So I used October to prepare. 

I didn’t make the goal by the end of the month but I did complete some 37,000, by far the largest body of work I had ever completed. I was ecstatic over my progress and to me it was success. The book, however, was also shelved in favor of completing paid work.

The biggest compliment I had received at that time was an invitation to join a group of writers who were self-publishing anthologies of short, dark and twisted stories – right up my alley. I was delighted to have been asked and the first story I submitted provided me with a much needed reality check. As I opened the email, I was overwhelmed by the red print liberally splashed across my work from the group’s resident editor. I was initially inflamed and it took me two days before I could look at it calmly. 

It was the best thing that ever happened to me. My relationship with that editor was a bit bumpy and I didn’t always agree with his recommendations but I learned a great deal from him about the craft of writing. I stayed with that group for a couple of years and published stories in five books with them before deciding to try my hand at doing it solo. 

My next post will explain how I go to where I am today and where I hope to go. Won’t you please come back and read some more?

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