Writing to Get Published

 I'm a little different from most other writers I've met so far in one glaring way: I have never been an English major or studied creative writing or participated in any class that might remotely help me write novels.  No, in college I majored in Floral Design Management.  Most people laugh when I tell them that, like they think it's a joke, like it's on the same level as majoring in Coloring in the Lines.

Oh, that was your major?  Oh.  *cough*

But I loved it!  I got accepted in a lucky way, too.  In high school I took a course called Experience Based Career Education, where you got to go and do little mini-internships around town.  I chose Jr. High PE Teacher (pretty intimidating when the kids are bigger than you) and Floral Design. 

The woman I worked for, Chris of Christine's Floral, was wonderful.  She made me tie bows until my hand was perma-cramped.  I stripped roses of their thorns and cleaned out buckets.  I even got to put together a vase of roses for an order (and failed so miserably that one of the designers had to bail me out.)  It was the best. 

So when it came time to fill out my college application, I knew what I wanted to do.  The school I went to, BYU-Idaho, is one of the few universities in the country that actually offer Floral Design.

The day the application was due, disaster struck in the form of a power outage.  I sent it in the next day and got a very polite rejection letter stating that I was too late.  A few days later I got a call from the department head saying that they had an opening and that I could have it if I promised to stick with Floral Design for at least two semesters and then I could change my major if I wanted.  I didn't want. 

I was so excited I ran to the store and bought myself some cheery dishes.  I was going to college!  Away from home!  To play with flowers! 

On the first day of school I showed up to class with a rosy outlook.  Classrooms full of flowers just smell good anyway.  Have you ever noticed that when you walk into a flower shop, how it smells?  That was my classroom.  Ahhh.

The class started with a round of introductions where everyone had to say what kind of floral experience they had.  At least half the class had already had jobs in flower shops.  I was confident in my abilities.  I knew that stems had to be cut at an angle before being put in water.  I knew about floral foam, how you can't push it into the water because that causes air pockets.  But, wow, I didn't know as much as I thought I did.  Or as much as other people, at least. 

And let's talk about raw talent for a minute, because there were a couple people who had it in droves.  For the first few weeks I could almost hear my poor little practice flowers whimpering to jump over to the next table and join someone else's arrangement.  I, apparently, didn't have that raw talent.  I didn't have the instincts to make beautiful arrangements. 

All I had was a love of flowers.

That love drove me to try harder, to assess what looked good and what looked bad, to learn all I could.  And this sounds totally cheeseball, but that love grew as I learned more.  To this day, my heart breaks for the poor, abused flowers in Walmart.  I'm like PETA for flowers, seriously.  Maybe I should start throwing dandelion milk on the produce stockers?  Would that be productive?

By the end of my college career, although I won't get all braggy and say I was top of the class, I was pretty decently high on the list.  But even better than that, I saw what I'd done.  And I was insanely proud of myself. 

Same with writing.  I have the love, I have some talent, but sometimes I look at other writers and think, "Oh...I have no idea what I'm doing here.  Wow, adverbs are bad, huh?"  But my love drives me to get better, to see what works and what doesn't, to grow.  I'll put in the work and hopefully I won't slice any fingers off like I almost did in my Wedding Flowers class.  Because that hurt.

But probably not as much as query rejections will.  Yeesh.


julie said...

I'm in the same boat. Or a different boat paddling next to your boat. I majored in music. And actually, until English 101, I couldn't write AT ALL. Actually, I still really can't. I can just edit. My first drafts are embarrassingly atrocious. Anyway, I'll come visit often, so that SOMEDAY I can say, I finished a story too! Go you!!!

Lorna said...

you crack me up jeigh! i never realized you had such passion and i'm looking forward to following you blog!

Red Boot Pearl said...

Man do I wish I could go back and just take one grammar class... (someday) I really thought it was so useless. Sigh. Being a Spanish Major did help a little...but uh...I really, really don't want to write in Spanish. Total torture.

So I'm taking the long way about learning all the intricacies of writing. I've learned a lot from the last couple of years and feel like I can only move forward.

I've finished multiple drafts of my WIP... I keep thinking this time I'll get it and then I'll send it to an agent and get rejected...and then I can finally start something new. I'm crossing my fingers that this will really be the last time! Because I'm ready to move on, but I can't let go until I really am comfortable with it.

(Did I mention I'm somewhat of a perfectionist? Not in a grammar sort of way though--which kind of bites...because that would be kind of useful right now)

Anyway--I'm looking forward to reading your blog :)

P.S. I've sent out some stuff for children's magazines and honestly getting my first few rejections was like: WOW I'm a WRITER! I'm getting REJECTIONS! My husband thought I was crazy...but it was kind of exciting.

I'm sure the novelty will wear off with this next project though...

Suzie-Q said...

I'm excited to read your stuff. And I will be jumping up and down with you when you do get published. Remember it take time and many tries, that is what happened to my brother ( who is an English, creative writter person.)

by the way would do flowers for my sisters wedding in May??

Cannwin said...

Sometimes people start talking adverbs and pronouns and I think to myself... Whats an adverb?

I didn't listen to Ms. Kelsey in 8th until she had us write a short story. When I handed in 3 pages more than she asked she looked at me dumbfounded. Two days later after she'd read it she complained that if she'd known all she had to do was assign me papers she'd have done it along time ago.

Needless to say, I can't tell a predicate from a predator but I'm pretty confidant I can write a story containing both. :)

Twinmomwv said...

I'm so excited for you! Can't wait to follow you on this journey.

Luanne Hardy said...

I'm really excited for this blog. For all the people out there who might be reading this comment: Jeigh did an amazing job with my wedding flowers. They were professional and more than what I could ever dream up. If she went from flowers wanting to jump off her table to what she did for me than she is/will be an amazing writer.