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The Website of the Central Nebraska Writers Network

Spring 2001  

Lynne Aurand Mickley, Editor
PO Box 27
Chapman, NE
United States

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by Mary Elizabeth Anderson

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Mary Elizabeth Anderson

          Am I a real writer, I wondered. Or, am I a fake--just fooling everyone--family and friends, myself included?
          A real writer writes. Of course, I know that. And, I haven’t written or worked on anything new for a long time. Rewrites don’t count in my way of thinking today.
          Seems like I’m always reading about writing, checking markets, or sending out reprints, query or status letters. I spend a lot of time selling and promoting my “stuff.”
          It gets old. I wonder if I have just developed writer’s block lately. Or, is there really such a thing? Until now I had “poo pooed” the idea away. I always thought you could just sit down and write anything, if you set your mind to it. It had worked that way for me in the past.
          But, right now I’m uptight and upset. Can’t throw myself into writing something new, because I keep waiting for the promised phone call from XYZ Publishing, which, they told me, would materialize in the middle of the summer in order to get my book on their spring 2000 list. Her exact words. It’s now July 23. Darn near past the middle of the summer, according to my calculations.
          Have I held on to this dream since the middle of winter, only to have it disappear like slippery soap in the shower? This dream has sustained and nourished me for a little over seven months. Ever since the December 15 phone call that said, “I’ve held on to your proposal for over a year now. I love it! Do you think you could get the manuscript in the mail right away? And do you have plans to develop this book into a series? I think it would really work well for this new line we’re proposing.”
          Could I! “Oh yes,” I replied, “the next book is outlined and lying on my desk!”
          Knew I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high. Hadn’t I had a similar experience as an outcome of a writer’s conference a year ago? But as a result of the conversation in the phone call I had received, who wouldn’t start walking on cloud nine? And, besides, now I had a tangible dream to fantasize about.
          No one could grab this dream away from me until I heard word that XYZ Publishing had disbanded their idea. For now, it was all mine! For the past seven months I daydreamed about it as I went through my daily routine. I daydreamed when we went on vacation, I daydreamed when we left on a business trip to Kiev, Ukraine, and I even daydreamed about my series as I played with my four grandchildren. I vividly saw myself with four books on a table in front of me. The four books from my Wake Up, Kate series. I daydreamed about book signings, press releases, and watching middle grade readers check out my books at the library. What a wonderful dream it made! I never wanted it to end.
          There’s no doubt in my mind that this scene will play out somewhere, sometime. I know I’ll sell Wake Up, Kate when the time is right. But the whole unknown question hangs in the air. Ahh, when?
          This writer’s life. You need to prepare for it. You have to develop the stamina and discipline of a “tough cookie” in order to survive, or there’s no way you can make it. You need to develop a hide as thick as Texas cowboy boots. You need to harden yourself to face disappointments and rejections, but always work as intensely as possible on each new piece.
          However, you also need to hang on to hope. Because we never know what a new day will bring. Each day brings another opportunity for that long awaited phone call, or for the chance of a big fat envelope to drop into the mailbox. That fat envelope doesn’t have to bear bad news. It can carry the long awaited contract.
          As Ursula K. LeGuin said, “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”
          Until I hear some sort of news--be it good or bad--I will still hang on to my dream that XYZ Publishing will come through for me. With that hopeful promise tucked within my heart, I feel better.
          And, as for this exact moment, I feel better, too. Because I know I am a real writer. I have just written.

          Mary Elizabeth Anderson of Grand Island, Nebraska, teaches "Writing For Profit & Pleasure" seminars at community colleges throughout Nebraska and Iowa. A former elementary teacher, she is the author of three books for children. Link Across America: A Story of the Historic Lincoln Highway was released in April of 1997 from Rayve Productions of Windsor, California. In February 1998 the Antique Automobile Club of America presented her with a special Authors Award in recognition of this book encouraging young people to become interested in the automotive hobby through printed media. Ever Wonder What to Do?, a manners book for young children, was released in spring of 1999 by Barbour Publishing of Uhrichville, Ohio. JayJo Publishing of St. Louis, Missouri, will release Taking Cerebral Palsy to School in 2000.

          Her articles and stories for both children and adults appear regularly in over seventy magazines such as Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and My Friend.

          Lakeview Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska selected her as their 1997-1998 Nebraska Author of the Year.

          She is available to speak to groups on the Lincoln Highway and the development of her book Link Across America: A Story of the Historic Lincoln Highway

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WRITERS is the quarterly publication of the Central Nebraska Writers Network. ©CNWN. All Rights Reserved. Contents of this website may not be published elsewhere without the permission of CNWN or the individual contributors. For more information, see the Legal Page. EDITORIAL STAFF: Lynne Aurand Mickley, Editor, Webmaster. Send inquiries and submissions to: or Central Nebraska Writers Network, PO Box 27, Chapman, NE 68827-0027.

This page updated 04/22/01