Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Secret

I've got a secret that I'll let you all in on. When I first started blogging, I had a tiny little fantasy in the back of my mind that some publishing entity would stumble across my exceptionally well-written and interesting blog and offer to pay me for my writing. Before that statement points to the notion that I have a big head or think a lot of myself, please let me say that my tongue is in my cheek when I say "exceptionally" and "interesting". I will add, however, that it is not really in cheek when I say "well-written."

During all of my adult life, I've been told that I write quite well. In college, being able to write made success far easier for me than for others as I could write essays and papers without the mental equivalent of chipping a nail. What is more, writing has never been a struggle for me. The words roll out with ease. In fact, I think many people wish I could simply get them to shut up as I go on and on at times.

In large part, I attribute the ease with which I write to two things. First, I read copious numbers of books when I was a child and young adult. This slowly sets up an almost unconscious awareness of patterns in stories and a completely conscious recognition of the joy of having an expansive vocabulary. While a lot of people deride the use of "university words" or "$20 words", I think that having a deeper and broader vocabulary to draw from allows you to express ideas more precisely and colorfully with the right word choice. If your audience can't go to dictionary.com and look it up, maybe they're not the right readers for you.

The second thing which almost certainly contributed to my writing was having a huge number of pen pals from age 12 to 17. I wrote all the time from a very young age to a captive and receptive audience. All of that practice may not have made me perfect, but I'm sure it helped build a smooth synaptic highway for my mind to speed along when it came to expressing myself on paper (or on screen).

At any rate, I'm sure that being "discovered" via your blog isn't a little dream that is uncommon among those who believe they have something special to offer. In fact, a lot of ambitious sorts take matters into their own hands and create blogs that pay for themselves through advertisements rather than wait for someone to come along and recognize their brilliance and give them money. I wish I were so ambitious, but that requires more marketing effort and and focus on a niche for the likes of me.

Fortunately, fate was kind to me and my former blog did attract the attention of a print publication based in and about Tokyo. They asked me to write for them regularly and, yes, they pay me for my pieces. Since I don't want my real name connected clearly to this blog, I won't offer the name of the publication, but I will say that it's in English and has been around for a very long time. I'll also say that it's not one of the freebie magazines that you can pick up and you can buy a subscription to this publication through Amazon. It's the sort of thing you'll almost always find in places like Kinokuniya book store.

It's not that big a deal really. It's not like I'm writing for the New York Times or something, but it's nice that sometimes some little dreams do come true.


CMUwriter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Roy said...

I know many people who started as English teachers and wrote for the likes of TJ,TC,JT then moved onto the Japanese English publications like Yomiuri, Mainichi and then became editors, journalists at AP,Reuters(where i work),Bloomberg etc..have you ever thought about it?

Orchid64 said...

Sorry, CMUwriter, but I had to delete your comment wholesale as I'm not currently moderating comments for this blog and your screen name was there for the word to see. However, I will repost it here:

CMUwriter said:

"That is so awesome, congratulations I am super happy for you, and you know that as a fellow published writer, I would love to know what publication it is in so I can read it! Please!!!! Don't make me beg! Anyway, I always thought that you had a knack for writing, and it wasn't just well formed sentences and stuff like that, you have the second half: something to say.
It is one of the reasons I come to this blog, or your previous one, which shall remain nameless; you can take a simple subject, such as your butter post, and make it interesting to read. You do a very good job at it. Anyway, throw a fellow writer a bone! Also if you're on aim hit me up: (please redact my screenname regardless, thanks.)

I have your e-mail address around so I'll e-mail you the information.

Many thanks for your kind words!

Roy: I never thought much about it, but it is something that is possible. I'm not sure how one gets a food in the door at such places as I would guess they have many people clamoring to write for them.

If you have any advice (aside from blind submissions), I'd be happy to hear them!

Thanks for your comment!

Roy said...

Most of the people I knew who became editors or journalist here simply persisted at improving their writing, getting exposure as much as possible, networking with the right people and being prepared to deliver should an opportunity present itself. They were not educated in that field or had any previous experience. As there are relatively few English speaking foreigners in Japan who have "professional" writing skills it's an opportunity for people without prior experience but willing to make an effort to get into this field. I think the IT/Internet boom in the late '90s was the same way. I rode the wave and moved out of teaching.

You probably don't need me to tell you this, but as with any kind of career move knowing the right people is the key. Making the first step writing for a small publication will bring you in contact with others who are on their way up and they tend to remember people when they get into positions of influence. I'm not the networking type of person because I've found that networking with the right person is more valuable than networking with alot of people. I have a few valuable contacts who have lead me to some good opportunities in life. Big companies do not necessarily have the time to interview many candidates and rely on the recommendations of their employees more often than you would imagine. This can work to your advantage in getting a foot in the door.

Sorry this all sounds like obvious advice doesn't it?

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

That is fantastic news and very well deserved! Well done! I think you have my email, I'd love to hear what publication you're being published in so that I can get a copy.

Oh, and sorry I haven't been by to visit until now... just trying to catch up on the blog world now.