THE PICTURES YOU MISSED

Have you ever been intent on writing about a specific event but, when you took pen in hand, couldn’t remember enough of the details to make the writing interesting? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Learn how the three writer’s tools in Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present can help you pull the tiniest details from your mind’s camera and develop them into word pictures that can be recorded in any genre and shared over and over again. In addition, find out the difference between a handheld camera – whatever the style, brand, or cost – and your mind’s camera.

With the Olympic Games in full swing, I couldn’t help but step back in time and offer an Olympics-inspired excerpt from Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present (pages 42-43), plus a word picture (poem) derived from images pulled from my own mind’s camera and developed with the help of the snaps, scraps and snippets explained in that book.

On our most recent trip to Australia, for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, my husband and I bought an older model car and traveled up the coast, from Melbourne to Cairns. Along the way, my camera was poised, ready to not miss a single precious moment in time. But I did miss several: a farm woman returning from a sugarcane field with a turned-up apron full of short pieces of cane; a half-grown lamb, down on one knee, nudging milk from its mother’s udder; a three-foot long goanna doubling back into the bush on a mountain road; a seagull halting in midair to scratch its belly; and the list goes on. Since it was impossible to recapture the moments on film, all I could do was capture the images with my mind’s camera and record them as word pictures in my diary, under “Pictures I Missed.” Most of those “pictures” are now being developed for a travelogue in poetry.

Good photographs depend not only on the quality of the film and proper use of the camera, but also on the skill of the photographer to watch for great shots and then have the spontaneity to click the shutter without hesitation. Likewise, good word pictures depend not only on the spontaneity of the writer, but also on proper use of the mind’s camera, through observation and the gathering of images. The difference is that a moment in time missed by the photographer can never be recaptured. No matter what pains he goes to, to reenact the moment, if he fails to get the picture the first time, that moment is lost forever. Not so with the writer whose words can record moments in time, anytime.

Think of your mind as a camera with a memory-sensitive, hair-trigger shutter. It is continually snapping pictures, capturing memories, good or bad, and storing them like microscopic images on film. But the beauty part of this camera is that it comes equipped not only with sophisticated video and audio capabilities, but also with the ability to record touch, taste, and smell, all of which can be described with words. 

That’s not to say that all of our cameras see and record things the same way.  Just as photographers see things differently—some capturing only the main subject, others taking in the entire background or foreground—writers do the same. Give three different writers the same subject on which to elaborate and, chances are, you’ll get three entirely different word pictures.

A “Getting the Picture” exercise can be found on page 44 of Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present: How to Retrieve the Lost Pictures of Your Past.

“Olympic Gold” (below), now a part of my travelogue, is among the many word pictures I have developed using the snaps, scraps and snippets explained in my book:

         Olympic Gold

Sixteen Olympic tickets—

No others quite like these;

A third trip to Australia for

‘Two Thousand’ memories.

 

They got us into venues

Of wrestling, boxing, track,

Our bold USA banner in

An Aussie haversack.

 

We walked in rains and rode the trains,

Bought food that wasn’t cheap,

And marching music played as we

Were herded ’round like sheep.

 

From stadium at Homebush Bay

To Darling Harbour halls:

Four busy days of to-and-fro

Mementos on our walls.

 

Olympic flame and cauldron burned

Their way into our hearts

While, sitting at the finish line,

We witnessed stops and starts.

 

Inside one exhibition hall

A pigeon walked our aisle;

Evander Holyfield shook hands,

Though seldom did he smile.

 

An angel stood at Central,

Promoting peace, good will;

The trains were always right on time

And quickly got their fill.

 

From Melbourne, north to Cooranbong,

To Sydney’s Games, and more:

Right up the coast to Cairns and back—

A trip we’d made before.

 

‘Twas I who’d balked at going,

But you who’d said we should;

We met with my old classmates and

Camaraderie was good.

 

Sixteen Olympic tickets,

Bright gold, with green and blue

Reminders of Two Thousand mem’ries

Shared by me and you.

 

Copyright 2014  Lois J. Funk

 

Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present is available at www.amazon.com/author/loisjfunk and www.bn.com.

 

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GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN

When my sisters and I were very young, our parents took up woodworking as a hobby, crafting footstools, end tables, magazine tables, and the like, in one corner of our basement, while we played in an adjacent corner. I often stopped playing long enough to walk over and watch my dad turn a table leg on the lathe, or my mother put sandpaper to a table Dad had just put together. In Dad’s workshop, “smooth” was always the goal, and “going against the grain” was unheard of.

Years later, as a teenager, I was encouraged by English teachers to write. And later yet, when I stepped into the real world of writing, I found that popular authors warned, in so many words, about “going against the grain.” Write about what you know, they said, and, search for something similar on library shelves; then write something like it—but different. How confusing is that? Well, I surely wanted to write about what I knew, but as far as finding something similar to what I had in mind, I was at a loss.

As a result, when I started compiling Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, I was well aware that I was stepping out of bounds and off the beaten path by combining prose and poetry in a memoir, risking being tripped up by either of two gaping potholes: poetry is a hard sell in its own right; and, does the world really need another memoir by an unknown author—especially one who promotes poetry? Should I have stayed on the safer path by presenting another memoir in prose? Maybe, maybe not, but re-writing and repeating what had already been published seemed a little redundant and not at all interesting from my point of view. At the same time, the more nostalgic poetry I shared with readers and writers, the more I was questioned as to how I remembered so many things about my past and how I could turn such mundane things as wash day into enjoyable reading. Still others recalled and enjoyed some of the same experiences but didn’t know how to put them into words.

As I skirted the potholes, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets evolved into a “loose” memoir, with the added twist of “showing, not telling” how to retrieve and record one’s own memories. I had no idea how the book would work, or if it would work, but proof that it is working comes in the fact that readers are going back through it a second or third time, either because they fear they missed something during their first reading(s), or because they are using my snaps “tools” to write or “fix” their own work(s).

Perhaps the book’s qualities are best explained by the late teacher, friend, and editor of Pieces of Her Mind – Women Find Their Voice in Centuries Old Forms, who accepted twenty-one of my poems for that book and had no qualms about endorsing Snaps, Scraps & Snippets as follows:

‘Too often beginning writers are told to “show, not tell.” However, they are not told how to do that. Lois Funk, in Snaps, Scraps, and Snippets, uses the example of taking pictures and vignettes from her childhood and trips abroad to do exactly that. Every beginning writer (and some seasoned ones) should read this book. It is charming and endearing and uses the simplest of things – such as a sieve – to show one how to sort through the good and bad of one’s writing. I would definitely recommend this book for my beginning students. – Alvin Thomas Ethington, Editor, Pieces of Her Mind; staged playwright, published author, and a professional reviewer.’

As nonfiction how-to for poets, memoirists, genealogists and more, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets offers a new and simple approach to recording as many memories as a reader/writer cares to share with family, friends, or the world. So, if you have a story to tell and don’t know where to begin, learn how to use “guided freewriting” to dig into your memories and how to use a “sieve” to sort them out.

 

Please visit my website at http://loisjfunk.com.

My books can be found at www.amazon.com/author/loisjfunk and www.bn.com

Other places where I can be found:

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http://thehaikufoundation.org

 

 

IT TAKES COMMITMENT

Submitting my first children’s story of the year prompted me to muse on why we call writers’ accomplishments ‘works’. So I turned to the American Heritage Dictionary to find that work is (1) an artistic or intellectual creation or composition as well as (2) labor, effort, exertion, and/or toil. Both definitions fit an earnest writer’s works to a T.

Beginning writers/poets might be wondering what it takes to “get published”—not in the self-publishing sense writers are being steered toward today—but by magazine and book publishers who accept submitted works and print them in their own realm, with the author’s byline attached. I had no idea myself, until my first four children’s poems were accepted for publication some thirty years ago; no idea how much work I was in for in the coming years, performing all the writers’ tasks necessary to get published, while keeping detailed records of every piece of writing submitted and published, from one-line quips to rhyming children’s stories and inspirational poems. Those records show that of the 1,491 pieces submitted to date, 591 have been published and/or reprinted (reprints require that publishers ask for permission to reprint) in magazines and books, including my own Snaps, Scraps & Snippets and Light for the Burning Soul.

 When done in earnest, writing—whether a poem, a story, or a book—is work in every sense of the word: work getting it on paper/screen; work editing and/or rewriting it; work finding the proper publisher/editor to whom to submit it; work readying the manuscript according to that publisher/editor’s guidelines; and work submitting it.

While every writer accomplishes the above steps in his or her own way, earnest writers have one thing in common: commitment. I continue to refer to earnest writers because I so often meet poets who would love to see their byline in a magazine or a book, yet they lack the commitment it takes to get it there. New poets, especially, have a tendency to step out too soon and make the fatal mistake of putting their first hundred or so poems together, hoping their book will sell. All that work, yet they rarely think of submitting their poems to an editor first, to see if they even warrant publishing. And that brings me to some advice given by a bestselling author/poet several years ago: that some poems of even the best authors should probably be left in a drawer or put back in a working file until later; and that it’s best to wait until you have a good-sized collection/selection of poems to choose from before setting the goal of publishing a book of poems. So, whatever else you do, don’t let family and friends lull you into thinking that your work is wonderful enough for a book until you have put it to the test with actual editors who will tell you the bold truth.

 Another jaunt through the dictionary tells me that commitment is the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to some course of action. That pretty well sums up my commitment to writing. What about yours? What do you write, and how committed are you to your writing, whatever genre, and to getting it published? How much research have you done, to find publishers/editors who might be interested in at least reading what you write? They’re out there; it’s just up to you to find them, because, until you get your name in print, they won’t come looking for you. So don’t sit back and wait. Revise your work to the best of your ability; have it edited; and get it out there.

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Closely related earlier blog: The Flip Side of Rejection Slips

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Please feel free to leave a comment or a question. Also, please visit my webpage at http://loisjfunk.com. My books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present and Light for the Burning Soul are available through www.amazon.com/author/loisjfunk and www.bn.com.

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FINDING THE COURAGE

While writing comes fairly easy to those of us who love it, submitting a manuscript to an editor who could reject it with the flick of a pen takes courage, not to mention work and determination.

Submitting any manuscript, no matter how short or how long, takes work, time, and a certain amount of courage. Some of us are willing to do what it takes and risk rejection; others shy away from everything except wanting others to read and praise their work.

Although I started writing children’s stories during my high school years, twenty years passed before I thought seriously about “being a writer,” even though I was writing most of the time. I had kept a detailed travel diary of the years I lived in Australia, as well as a smaller one for a trip to Europe in 1964. I was also writing children’s stories, but only for my family—especially nieces and nephews—to read.

At the insistence of family and friends, I finally got up enough courage to submit five children’s poems to a religious magazine. While one poem was returned, the other four brought me a whopping $4.75. That small check gave me the courage, and the incentive, to start submitting poems to other magazines, namely Turtle, Children’s Playmate, Humpty Dumpty’s, and Jack and Jill (Benjamin Franklin Literary Society, Children’s Better Health Institute). Since then, my work has been published in a wide variety of books and magazines.

Since then, methods of submitting materials have changed drastically as well. Writers used to mail submissions by snail mail and wait for weeks to hear back from editors. Now, with email submissions so prevalent, answers come back almost immediately. But even with hundreds of publications and two books to my credit, it still takes courage to hit the Send button.

For a glimpse into my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I’d love to hear from you!

500 WORD EXCERPT FROM SNAPS, SCRAPS & SNIPPETS

When I started refinishing the 1929 Richmond upright piano my husband and I had scavenged from an old farm house, I rummaged through several black and white pictures my mother had given me, searching for ones I remembered seeing, of my great-grandparents sitting side by side in front of the upright piano in their parlor. Although I had formerly been interested only in their faces, I now wanted to see what the piano itself looked like and, more importantly, what was sitting on top of it.

I scrutinized the photos with a magnifying glass, taking in the lace runner; the oval picture frames that held faces I didn’t recognize; and the open sheet music on the music stand that stood beside the piano; but searching most of all for a glimpse of the metronome my mother had used during music lessons at her grandmother’s – this grand-mother’s – house. While Mom’s memories of those lessons and her grandmother were very unpleasant ones, they tugged at my desire to get them down on paper, so much so that as I continued to remove the rock-hard, blackened varnish from my piano, scenes of my great-grandparents’ era, as I imagined them, set my mind’s camera whirling with images and word pictures for a poem that eventually surfaced along with the beautiful cherry finish of the Richmond.

Refinishing the Piano

A relic of someone else’s past,
it revels in its own unmasking,
its delicate features, rich and red,
taking center stage now, parting
layers of time-worn curtains to
let me slip, unseen, through tapestried
parlors reeking of cigars and
oldness; to let me breathe in the
familiar air of uncharted notes falling
deftly into place, only to stop short
with the crack! of the wooden pointer
on Mother’s tender knuckles while
the metronome keeps time with
my heartbeat.

The refinishing incident spurred me on, and I anxiously searched through my childhood photo album to find the deep-down pictures of our home life. But I was disappointed to find that pictures don’t really lie; they just don’t always tell the whole truth, and the little things I so desperately wanted to see didn’t show up in the photos.

I wanted to see the cinder driveway that had once run alongside our house, and the garbage pits and hollyhocks that had lined the alley behind it. I longed to see pictures of Mom’s clotheslines propped up and loaded down with the week’s wash; the tricycle that my sisters and I took turns riding to the neighborhood park just up the street from our house; and glimpses of my grandma’s kitchen where, in the aprons my mother always made for her, she taught me how to spell my name while she was baking cherry pies. Those were the details that added color and life to my childhood. But nowhere did I find them recorded on film. So I did the next best thing. I encouraged my mind’s camera to come up with mental images that I could translate onto…continued on Page 37 of Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present (How to Retrieve the Lost Pictures of Your Past), on sale now at Barnes & Noble http://www.bn.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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TWO INTERVIEWS IN ONE

With books in hand, for selling and signing, I stepped inside I KNOW YOU LIKE A BOOK and looked directly into the eyes of a young girl sitting in an overstuffed chair with a book in her hands. A few minutes later, Mary Beth, the owner of this charming book store, was introducing me to Cassandra “Cassie” Horton, a junior from a nearby high school.

Sometime earlier, an instructor from Cassie’s school had called Mary Beth with a dilemma. Along with other students, he had given Cassie a “Shadowing for Jobs” assignment, in which she was to interview someone whose “job” she admired and would like to pursue. The instructor’s dilemma came when Cassie was bound and determined that her only goal as far as a job was concerned was to become an author. To the instructor’s surprise, Mary Beth said, “You’re in luck. We’re having a book signing, and Cassie is welcome to interview the author of this new book about writing.” Wow! An author with a new book about writing and a student who wants nothing more than to become an author!

Only when Cassie sat down at the little round book-signing table, did I see that the book she’d been reading was my Snaps, Scraps & Snippets. In the same breath, I told her to “ask away” but warned her that someone her age may not be interested in my book.
On the contrary! Cassie smiled and said, “I’ve just read the first two chapters, and your book has caught my attention.”

While the questions on Cassie’s “Shadowing for Jobs” assignment form pertained to usual nine-to-five jobs, and writing is rarely a nine-to-five job, she made the questions work for interviewing an author:

What are the hours of your job – your writing?
I don’t have any “set” hours, but I’d have to say twenty-four hours a day. I get up around 4 a.m., write most any time of the day, and wake up during the night, making notes about whatever pops into my head.

What is your job – your book – about?
That’s hard to explain. It is not a typical memoir; not a story of my entire life, or even a specific part of it. Instead, it is made up of bits and pieces of my life, told in ways that help other writers realize how much of their own lives they can write about.

What is your job – your writing – area like?
I have a small room in my home, about 12′ x 12′, with a desk and everything I need right there. Above my desk, there’s a shelf with reference books and binders filled with my poems—about 1,000 of them. A three-shelved, glassed-in bookcase holds magazines and books with my published poems and stories, including 80 or 90 children’s stories in magazines like Turtle, Children’s Playmate, and Jack ‘n’ Jill. Those stories were all “written” on a typewriter, back when we hadn’t thought of having computers in our homes, so if I made an error on a typewritten page, I would re-type the entire page.
Cassie prefers using pen and paper before sitting down at the keyboard.
I do too!

How (and when) did you get interested in your job – writing?
Two teachers – one in junior high and one in high school – told me that I had an aptitude for writing and should pursue it. I started out by writing fantasy for children, in high school and shortly after.
Cassie has never had to write anything for school – no poems, stories, or otherwise. However, she has been writing on her own for some time and writes mostly fiction.

What do you do when you are not working at your job – writing? What do you like to read (and do you have any favorite authors), when you are not writing?
My favorite books are all about writing: nonfiction by Julia Cameron, Natalie Gold, Annie Dillard, and any author who gives me one new idea or spark of inspiration.
Cassie likes fiction and enjoys reading Stephen King and some Harry Potter, as well as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The poems in your book are mostly rhymed…
Yes. There isn’t much call for rhymed poetry these days, but I read a long time ago that “if you can do it well, try it.” So I did, and I’ve had a great deal of rhyming poetry published.
Cassie writes some poetry too, mostly free verse.

Even some poets don’t understand when I say that I have a “rhythm” in my head that makes writing rhymed poetry easy for me.
At this, Cassie looked straight at me and said, “I understand that.”

There was a pause as Cassie turned Snaps, Scraps & Snippets over, to the synopsis on the back cover.

I see you write music, too. What kind of music do you write?
Mostly inspirational, for children. I write the music and the lyrics. I write a song the way I want it to sound and then pass it on to my sister, who “fixes” the timing. Finally, it goes to a professional songwriter who “cleans it all up” and gets it ready for submission to a music publisher. Again, the rhythm in my head is helpful when it comes to writing music. My kindergarten class at church has sung many of my songs in front of our congregation.

Why do you like your job, or, why did you write this book?
I’ve heard so many people, of all ages, repeat wonderful, true stories that hold the attention of whoever they are talking to. When I ask if they’ve written those memories down for their families and friends to read in years to come, the answer is usually no. So, I wrote this book to encourage people to record their own memories.

What are the benefits of your job?
I love writing, and I like helping other writers as much as other writers have helped me.

How long did it take you to write this book?
About six years.

With her assignment covered, Cassie had some comments and questions of her own.
She said that she is a lot like the poet I described in the beginning of my book – modest about her writing and timid about presenting it to the public.
I have always been the same way. I was horrified when the president of our poetry club insisted we start using a microphone when reading our poems up front. Now, I appreciate the fact that she insisted on that, even though I still get nervous when I get up to the podium. Never be Nervous Again, by Dorothy Sarnoff, helped me a great deal.

How did you come up with the title of Snaps, Scraps & Snippets…?
I’ve gathered, saved, and treasured many mementos that have been passed down through my family, including the little pair of tinted spectacles pictured on the front of my book. When I decided to use those mementos to show others how to write about their own memories, “snaps, scraps, and snippets” just seemed to cover them all.
The “scraps” were what caught Cassie’s attention the most because she has several mementos from her grandmother, who died when she (Cassie) was very young.

What I gained from Cassie’s interview:
Now I knew for sure that, not only had Cassie absorbed the information in those first two chapters of my book; she was already thinking of how she can put Snaps, Scraps & Snippets to work for her.

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For a further glimpse into Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and into my new book, Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

DEALING WITH CRITICS, ONE AT A TIME

The initial publication of my poem “Mother’s Hands” in Ideals Magazine brought on a chain reaction of events, the first of which was an interview and feature article covering the poem and my children’s writing, along with mention of the seventh-grade teacher who had encouraged me to become a writer. The day after the article appeared in a local newspaper, I was contacted by a retired teacher who gave me the then current address of the seventh-grade teacher, in hopes that I would send her some of my published stories. (I did.) The same day, a radio DJ read “Mother’s Hands” over the air; and a few days later, I was invited to take part in the Reading Roundup Program at an elementary school.

The Reading Roundup boasted of local TV celebrities and the County Sheriff, all of whom would be reading stories selected by the Roundup Committee. Also milling around, with pen, pad, and camera in hand, was a reporter named Joe, from a newspaper more local than the last. It was understandably clear that Joe was more interested in the celebrities than he was in me but, eventually, he sat down beside me and asked who I was and what I would be reading. To the last question, I replied, “Three of my own stories.”

Joe’s faint but obvious snicker didn’t set well with my husband Fred, who was sitting on the other side of me and who quietly handed the young man a popular children’s magazine, opened to my 700-word story. As Joe read and turned the first page of the story, he looked up at Fred and said, “This is all in rhyme! And it makes sense! That’s hard to do!”

Leaning back in his chair, Fred merely grinned and said, “Yeah.”

Two days later, Joe’s byline appeared on a feature article with my photo and no mention of TV celebrities or sheriff.

Invitations continued to pour in, the next being from a mother whose son attended the elementary school. She regretted that she hadn’t heard my presentation, but she belonged to a small writers’ group in the area and asked if I’d bring some of my children’s stories to share with its members. When I did, a barrage of questions followed. How had I gone about getting my work published? How much did it pay? And, finally, would I come back again, to share more of my work? I would; and I did. However, by the time the next meeting rolled around, the lady who had invited me to join the group had received a rejection slip for an article she’d submitted to Redbook. Nothing I offered from my experiences with editors/publishers could convince her that it takes time, determination, and a great deal of research to get published, and that rejection slips are simply a part of the writing game. After a long discussion and a few suggestions, she sneered in my direction, “Well, rhyme is easier to write!” What she failed to realize is that, even if the writing itself appears simple, or seems to come easy to the poet/writer, it isn’t easy to get it published, especially by conventional methods (versus self-publishing).

Between meetings with that writers’ group, I received two handwritten letters from members of a local poetry club, both inviting me to attend their club’s next meeting. This time, having learned what I considered a valuable lesson, I left my own work at home and just went to listen to theirs. However, a follow-up invitation assured me that members would like to see and hear some of my work. So, the next time I took along the Ideals Magazine and read “Mother’s Hands.” I felt it went over well until, after the meeting, the same elderly gentleman who had sent one of the first invitations walked up to me, pointed at my poem, and said, “If that was just on a plain piece of paper, they wouldn’t want it,” implying that the artwork appearing with my poem had surely ‘sold’ the poem. Since I never submit artwork with a manuscript, and always submit my work on plain paper, I stood speechless as he went on to explain that he had submitted a handwritten poem, on a plain piece of paper, to a small magazine. When it was returned with a rejection slip, he had pressed on, personally delivering the poem to a local card shop. Again: rejection. I tried without success to explain that there are set guidelines for submitting work to a publisher and/or for even having an editor read your work. At that time (and maybe yet today) writers could submit neatly done, hand-printed manuscripts, but never handwritten. Still, no matter how perfectly a manuscript is submitted, there is no guarantee that an editor will accept it.

Months after I had joined the poetry club, the Church of Latter Day Saints bought second rights, and subsequently all rights, to a story entitled “A Lamb Named Brandon.” The story appeared in their children’s magazine and then in their magazine for all ages, the latter being printed in fifteen languages, for worldwide distribution. With fourteen magazines in tow (all except the unavailable Chinese version), I attended a poetry club meeting, happy to show the story where even my name was written in each corresponding language. But, once again, the same gentleman could hardly wait to look me in the eye and flat-out say, “The only reason they published that is because the Mormon Church is big on names.” And so it went with his critical remarks, to the point that at one meeting, when a club member read an original poem, the old gentleman pointed at me and said, “Give it to her, and it’ll probably get published.” Sadly, he remained bitter toward my being published until the day he died.

Some critics unwittingly reveal a great deal more than they realize about themselves and their own writing goals and missteps. Nevertheless, they keep me on my toes and bolster my resolve to keep writing and submitting my work to reputable publishers. At the same time, however, the more irritating and hurtful remarks end up on my list of questions and “digs” regarding being published—always by those who haven’t been, or by those who just don’t understand what it takes. So it is with pleasure and a smile that I share my condensed list (minus names) of criticisms and remarks, some of which occur time after time:

  • There’s the person who seriously asks, “Are you still writing?” Non-writers don’t seem to understand that a true writer never stops writing. We write wherever we are, about whatever we feel. In fact, as that person is asking if I’m still writing, I’m already conjuring up a way to get that question into an article or an essay (which I’ve just done).
  • There are strangers who see me writing in a public place; ask if I’m a teacher but find that I’m a writer; and immediately ask, with a smirk, if I’ve ever been published. At my “Oh, yes, many times” answer, the smirk usually disappears as the mouth drops open. While some are genuinely interested, then, to know where I’ve been published, others merely say, “Oh,” and walk away.
  • There are readers who imply that they could probably write the same thing, if they just had the time.
  • There was the beloved, elderly aunt who, when she saw “Mother’s Hands” in what had always been her favorite magazine (Ideals) asked, “Did you write that yourself, or did you copy it out of a magazine?” (Talk about bursting a bubble or sending it off into no-man’s-land with one deliberate breath!)
  • There was the family member who sent me a poem he had written, saying that I could use it if I wanted to—hoping to get it published, of course!
  • There was the lady to whom I gave a copy of my Mother’s Hands chapbook, along with a photocopy of “The Miracle Heart” (from another Ideals Magazine). She thanked me for both but, then, looking at the photocopied poem, asked, “Oh, you didn’t just see it somewhere and copy it?” (It has my byline on it, thank you very much!)
  • There was the woman who bought copies of my Mother’s Hands and Sisters chapbooks for two of her friends and, as I was signing them, asked, “Now, the ‘Acknowledgments’ in the front of these books, are those poems by other people?” (I don’t think so!)
  • And finally, there was the writer who claimed to be a friend; who often asked for help with her poetry; and who wanted to see everything I was writing and everything I was getting published. She was determined to do everything I was doing, from writing children’s stories, to essays, to poems (although, she did admit that writing music was beyond her reach). No matter what I’d just had published, she’d read it and say, “I can do that!”  But she didn’t.

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For a glimpse into my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I’d love to hear from you!