Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Pleasant surprise and How I got here Part 2

Can you believe it is Wednesday already?

This week has just zipped past me. I had something really exciting happen to me today. I was at the grocery walking through the meat section and scouting out deals when my husband called. It seems James Brausch [yes, the one I spoke of yesterday] somehow picked up on my blog post and told his subscribers to come check it out. I was so excited I actually forgot a few things on my shopping list. Now, I didn't get the extensive write up that Randy Ingermanson got on his recent series of posts "Writing 300 pages in 30 days" but it was a huge honor just the same. [Many of you know that I adore and respect Randy I. for not only his willingness to teach and mentor writers but also the quality of the products he sells].

What a huge honor to be pointed out like that. So if you are one of the over 100 people who bopped over to visit because of James' post, welcome. And if you're one of the MANY who decided to subscribe after visiting. Thanks! You really made my day.

So let's get on to part 2 of how I got here.

As I told you yesterday my first launch in to "Full-length Fiction" was a 22 page project for my 8th grade English class. Dr. Lloyd had assigned the project to the class. Since that was, a-hem, years ago I don't remember every detail but I DO remember that Dr. Lloyd started reading the stories to the class, at least a few of the best. I remember because I got the flu and missed a day of school. When I returned to class I had a number of classmates come to me and tell me how much they were enjoying my story and how they couldn't wait to hear the next part. That day in class Dr. Lloyd read part two of my story. I remember my heart pounding in my chest as he read line after line. The voices echoing in my head. After he had turned a few pages I looked around to find the entire class staring at him, eyes unblinking.

They were caught up in MY story!

The bell rang for the end of class before he finished and he promised to share the final installment the next day. As we left the room people started coming up asking me what would happen next. I couldn't believe this was happening to ME. I had gone from invisible to popular in just a few days. I told my mom when I got home, then called my dad and told him. They were both happy for me. I felt so alive!

The next day the story ended and they told me it was great. I don't remember much about it until the next fall. It was Freshman year and I had Lit, honors Lit. The teacher was James Meister.

Mr. Meister had a way of commanding respect while at the same time putting his students 100% at ease. I was intimidated by him at first. I could feel he was a man who wouldn't let me skate. I was a good student but Freshman year at home marked a number of difficult changes and I wanted to forget about School.

Then Mr. Meister assigned a creative writing assignment. I remember the thudding in my chest. I was going to pull my old assignment out! When class was over I went straight up to his desk and asked if I could add to a previous story I'd written. He said I could as long as I added enough pages to meet the assignment.

Thus I entered phase two of the writer's life. Editing.

I went back to that story and added dialog, scenes, subplots, and characters. Once again the story poured out of me as fast and my pencil could scribble. [Yes, this was before computers were everywhere.] I turned it in, once again with a knot in my stomach. This was more than an assignment, this was my passion. This was my story!

I don't remember exact words but I remember he LOVED it. A high school Literature teacher, whose life was devoted to BOOKS said I was good!! It was beyond words. I cannot imagine my first book contract could be any sweeter. In 8th grade I had the approval of my peers. Now in 9th grade I had the approval of the "experts".

But Jim Meister's impact on writing history wasn't over. When my birthday rolled around that February 2nd He gave me a gift. I tore open the wrapping paper eager to see what was inside. The cover of the book was blue and hard. "The Writer's Handbook: A guide to the Essentials of Good Writing. Second Edition."

This was a book for writers, real writers. And a Lit teacher had given it to ME. An innercity girl with second-hand clothes. Could someone like that REALLY be a writer?

Inside he'd written a note "To Tiffany, Become famous someday! J. Meister Feb. 1991" Those notes quickly scribbled to a now 15 year old girl would end up being the driving force behind who I am today. Mr. Meister told me to become famous and I was going to do it. One way or another I would!

That word would be something I'd hold on to because that summer I'd move 3 hours away from that inner-city to a completely different world.

It would also see me enter phase 3 of writing. Rejection.

See you tomorrow!

7 comments:

A Believer said...

Tiff
Remember, careful observation of the world around always assists a good writer.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Ah, rejection. Every writer's cross to bear. :-)

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...

Yep, you are both right. I find as I grow in writing I observe more and more of the world around me. I also find that I get better at taking both rejection and [constructive] criticism.

I think writers need a thick skin, a teachable heart, the mind of Donald Trump, and the spirit of Picasso. How do we do it. Laugh.

Maggie E. said...

Wow, I remember the feeling of first hearing one of my stories read aloud. It was at a competition, and the pride I felt at that moment will never be rivaled.

Maybe it's just me, but I really enjoy criticism, even if I don't always agree. One can really learn and grow by other's discontent.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...

Maggie,

That is a great point. I think so many times people hear the phrase "constructive criticism" and the skip right over the constructive part [by that I mean us authors]. There is so much to learn by listening to others. I don't discount what people say because people in the industry know their stuff...that's what they do. And people outside the industry are my readers. I REALLY need to listen to what they say.

Thanks for stopping by.

Hopeful Spirit said...

Thanks so much for contributing this post to The Seventh Day: Ninth Edition blog carnival at On the Horizon! The Carnival will be live tomorrow, February 24, 2008! Stop by and check out the other excellent submissions!

What a great story! I'll be anxious to read Part 3.

Julia Rosien said...

Thanks for submitting a great article to the March 2008 Mom's Blogging Carnival. You can see your story and all the others at:

http://www.gogirlfriend.com/reviews/moms-blogging-carnival-2-7760