Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Lesson I Learned as a Writer

My story, "My First Jeepney ride," started as an assignment for my class at the Institute of children's Literature.  My assignment was to recall a childhood place and describe it in specific detail, using sensory appeal.  I wrote about my visit to the Philippines.  Since I was so intrigued by my trip to my parent's hometown, I wanted to share my culture.

I first submitted my manuscript to Highlights.  Although, I knew submitting to them was a stretch, I thought I'd take a chance and introduce to them my version of nonfiction, which is "creative nonfiction."  I've studied back issues of Highlights so I knew they published nonfiction articles with a tight focus, and preferred research based on firsthand experience.  They especially welcome articles about cultural life.  My story fit the bill...well, almost.  They don't exactly publish "creative nonfiction."  But I thought I might change their mind after they read my story...WRONG!

Rule #1- Never think you can try to submit a manuscript different from the editorial style of the publisher just because you think your story could be the exception.  It never is.  My personal rejection read:  "Not sure this constitutes a full-length article.  You might want to review back issues for article style, direction, and tone."

The funny thing is that I've heard this rule before and I ignored it.  Call me amateur.  Call me ignorant.  I like to call myself a risk-taker.  After all, "those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something.

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." ~John Powell

So I submitted my story to Skipping Stones, which should have been my first choice.  Skipping Stones is a children's magazine that celebrates cultural diversity.  They encourage submissions of creative informational stories rather than pure fiction.

With a little tweaking, my "creative nonfiction" turned into a "creative informational story."  I rewrote my story to fit the magazine's style of writing.  That's how it should be done.  Skipping Stones Magazine published my story, "My First Jeepney Ride," in their November-December 2010 issue.

Skipping Stones Magazine is an award-winning cultural magazine.  As they put it, "We are committed to facilitating a meaningful exchange of ideas and experiences.  We want to make reading an active experience, relevant to issues confronting children locally and globally."

November - December 2010
I am thrilled to be sharing my culture with children all over the world.  Please pick-up an issue of Skipping Stones and read my story, "My First Jeepney Ride."

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