Sometimes life opens doors for you when you least expect it. There are times the stars are aligned, the sun is shining, and there isn’t anything stopping you from getting what you want.
I will take those times over those days where you can’t seem to get anything right and you are simply ready for the day to end so you can start over.
Yesterday was one of those days where things just clicked.
Last week I spoke about giving up my Plan B for my Plan A which is to focus on my writing and leave teaching behind. Since then, I have had some amazing opportunities come my way. Some big and some small. Today’s opportunity might seem small on the surface, but was huge in my mind.
In a “Seven Degrees of Separation” way, I was connected to KJ Dell’Antonia, New York Times Editor for Motherlode. I emailed her a few months ago to introduce myself and she mentioned that she was going to be in town in February. It was to my surprise and utter excitement that she remembered me months later and wanted to meet up for coffee.
Like a girl on a first date or a newly graduated student on their first interview, I made sure I was presentable and on time (which is a big deal for me nowadays).
I knew this wasn’t a job interview and I definitely did not want to come across like a desperate writer begging to get my essays published. However, I treated this meeting as a casual opportunity to learn more about her and how she is able to do what she does successfully.
I would be lying if I didn’t fantasize about receiving a job offer and being whisked away to write for the NEw York Times, but that is for some other day in the future, right? Perhaps I have a vivid imagination too. Everyone has a dream!
What was neat for me is seeing someone living out their dream and learning about how they connected the dots that lead them there.
We can always learn from other’s journeys and decisions when we put jealousy and insecurities aside. I try to be open minded and to be a good listener (although it can be challenging since I like to talk a lot). I never understand people that feel threatened by other’s successes. There is enough to go around people and jealousy is not a good look on anyone… Trust me.
We chatted about writing, what types of submissions she accepts for her blog, and about being a mom because that is what moms do – we talked about parenting and related to one another’s crazy experiences. What a gift it is to speak to another female about God knows what without being interrupted a thousand times. Sometimes the nicest gift for a mom to have on occasion is the ability to have an uninterrupted adult conversation. And, boy do I miss girl talk since becoming a parent!
Writing Tips from a New York Times Editor:
Community: Always link and comment generously on other’s sites.
Read: She recommended that I read Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I respect this woman so much as a writer and editor I am sure she could tell me to read anything and I would do it… ok, maybe not everything, but you get the point. I do have my writer and blog crushes out there and that is okay if you want to make fun of me.
Dealing with trolls and haters: I asked her how she deals with the trolls and “haters” (so to speak) on comments. She says that she reminds herself that it has more to do with that person than her writing so she tries to not let them get to her. Her site automatically moderates the comments and weeds out any comments that are offensive or in all CAPS! So, don’t comment on her site in all CAPS or it will automatically get booted.
Writing about Personal Stories & People: You can guarantee the person you are writing about will read what you publish and send you an email later asking if it was about them. Choose wisely. I told her I have some great stories about my childhood and how my parents raised us, but I was hesitate to share them in fear of “hurting feelings.” She said her parents read her material, laugh, and say they don’t quite remember things the same way she does.
Submitting to her blog: She gets 50-60 submissions emailed to her weekly and only chooses 3. Send your piece ready to go as she has limited time to edit. She stays away from the ever so popular “mommy” topics such as potty training, 10 ways to do this, and how to’s. They want variety and depth.
An hour passed and we were still talking, laughing and sharing each other’s stories. We could have gone on for another hour, but I knew she had to get back to her family obligations and I had to get back to my job (you know, the one that pays the bills).
We parted ways and I left with a mind full of ideas, inspiration, and blog submission topics. I am grateful to have the opportunity to talk with such an accomplished writer and editor that also has a good heart to meet with an unknown woman from McKinney, TX who simply loves to write.
She didn’t have to meet with me or even reply to my email.
She didn’t have to remind me that she was in town.
But, she did and for that I am forever thankful and I vow to do the same should anyone ever want to spend time with me to hear my story however small or large it may be.
To hear more of her tips on getting your writing featured be sure to listen to the Beyond your Blog Podcast featuring KJ Dell’Antonia. I have to admit I listened to it the night before I met with her and Susan Maccarelli did a great job asking the right questions. Beyond your Blog is a great resource for writers and bloggers who want to get read!