How It All Began

The idea of becoming a writer crept into my brain when I was looking the other way. It was a dastardly ploy, but once in, it refused to leave. Because I became quite good at catching several different species of fish, I thought why not share my expertise with others; the channel being writing an article to a fishing magazine. So I began plunking away on my IBM Selectric typewriter. Finally, it was completed and I sent it off. Three weeks later the worst thing that could ever happen to a fledgling writer happened. I was published.

The reason I say it was the worst thing that could ever happen is because I now actually believed I was a good writer, and the royalty checks would just pour in. Wrong! After countless rejections I began to realize maybe I wasn’t as articulate with the written word as I thought I was. And you have to remember, this was at a time when all manuscripts were sent by normal mail. So it was a long period of time between the submission and receiving the returned manuscript along with a rejection letter. And no matter which magazine, the rejection letters were pretty much worded the same. We’re sorry, but your material is not needed at this time. Thank you for your submission.

They never stated anything about how crappy the story was in the first place. It simply was not needed at this time.  And the sad reality is most manuscripts are never even read. What many would-be writers don’t understand is these magazines are inundated with manuscripts, with most being  just as terrible as mine were. And there is not enough time in a day for an editor to sift through them in an attempt to find one nugget. So unless the author is a recognized name, usually the manuscript is passed over. A form letter with the submitter’s name at the top is put in the self-addressed stamped envelope, along with the manuscript and sent back. But what is frustrating is the form letter falsely implies that the manuscript was actually read, and the only reason it was not accepted is because is simply was not needed at that time. So the bottom line is being published can be a real Catch 22. You can’t get published because you haven’t been published. That is the harsh reality of being a published writer.

Finally I made the decision that night classes at a local college might help. It was the best decision I ever made. When making my goal known, it was recommended that I take an English class, a Structural Writing class, and, lastly a Creative Writing class. Within a few weeks I learned what a terrible writer I was. All the manuscripts that I once believed were so brilliant I now read as unstructured and mumbled garbage.  After a year I began submitting again, many of the articles having been written in class.

It was not long that Frank Amato Publications out of Portland Oregon bought one of my articles. After three articles I became a monthly contributor  And then came others. Everything I wrote were “how-to” articles. But I had an urge to write outdoor humor. So on a whim I sent my first, “How Not To Launch Your Boat” to Frank Amato. He loved it and asked for more. I have never looked back.

Many of my posts were published works.

I truly believe that the best outlook to have as a writer is, first of all, you have to have a deep abiding love to write. Period. Writing is a lonely business. Unlike an actor on a stage, one never sees the appreciative audience. The only appreciation shown is the check in the mail, and seeing your name in public print. And there is no substitute for the education needed. What ever happens after that, well, happens. The main objective is just getting one’s foot in the door. And that can be very frustrating.

Though I am retired from writing for outdoor magazines, I do admit I would love to have all my published outdoor humor articles put together and published in a paperback. But if it happens, it happens. Until then I am quite content putting my stories in my WordPress blog, the only reason being is my deep love to write.


2 thoughts on “How It All Began

  1. Richard, this was an invaluable story for me. I have been knowing that I really should take some classes to aid in my writing endeavors. I know that it would help.

    Check with either “Blurb” or “Blog2Print” to publish your WordPress stories. They have different size books and some of them aren’t too badly priced. I intended to print copies for my kids for Christmas presents.

  2. Pingback: Humility–Something Worth Bragging About | richardmax22

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