• risa nyman

My writing journey


The authors I’ve met online in workshops, on Twitter and at conferences all have stories to tell about their unique writing journeys. Mine started about six years ago, by chance, when I found three pennies stacked on a window ledge in an otherwise totally empty apartment.

I scooped up those three cents and knew they were put there for a reason. Something special, magical and hopeful was going to happen to me. I’m a believer. Immediately it came to me that these pennies had a story in them that could be a wonderful children’s picture book. How hard could it be to write one? Ha!

So, I signed up for an online writing course at Gotham Writer’s Workshop. What an eye-opener. There was so much to learn about plot, setting, characters, voice, tension and more. The craft of writing was overwhelming and intriguing.

I submitted my penny story for the homework assignments and quickly caught on that this idea was a bust. I admit it was a bit discouraging, still I got hooked on writing. I persevered. When the class was asked to write short samples in other genres, I found my voice in middle grade.

Everyone says to read a lot in your genre, and I began, starting with The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson, a classic. I fell in love with Gilly and Mrs. Trotter and their humorous and heartbreaking story. If you haven’t read it, you should. I will from time-to-time write some short reviews of some middle grade favs on this blog.

I signed up for classes at Grub Street in Boston and joined critique groups on Inked Voices. I became a member of SCBWI and went to their regional conferences. At my first one, Linda Mullaly Hunt, author extraordinaire, spoke about her own techniques and strategies for writing. I immediately devoured her books, One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree. They are must reads. I attended workshops and panels about every aspect of writing and publishing. I was learning from the best. How lucky.

I was surprised how welcoming people in the writing community are even to a newbie. You might think writers, established and wannabe, would be super competitive. After all, there are only so many agents and publishers to go around. You don’t have to be Einstein to know the odds are against you, yet the camaraderie is quite amazing.

Now, my first manuscript is safely tucked in the proverbial “drawer” on my computer. Ah, but the second one is much better. You can get a glimpse of what this story is about on the Work in Progress page. I will blog more about some of the issues raised in this book like why family secrets can be devastating, how a family copes with mental illness and what our inner speech tells us.

This is my writing journey, and if you’re reading this, my first blog post, thank you for joining me on this wild ride.