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Author Topic: New Question about Assignment #8  (Read 5925 times)
Okami
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« on: November 03, 2009, 04:47:25 PM »

Between Nanowrimo, life, and my other writing projects, I'm glad I started on Assignment 8 before I got assignment 7 back from my instructor last Friday. But I'm having some more trouble.

The hardest part for me now is both coming up with at least ONE nonfiction article plan to go with the two story plans I came up with.

Nonfiction just isn't my strength. But I'm slowly starting to develop a taste for it, but it's a day-by-day thing for me.
My problem is narrowing the focus of a topic that interests me.

For example, I LOVE graphic novels, and for a time in my mid to late teens, I read more of them than straight prose books, now I read more straight prose books and am just getting back into the graphic novel scene.

I've wanted to write a nonfiction piece about how I got into them and a couple of my favorites, but I don't know how to go about it. It's that issue with narrowing my focus. But also I wouldn't know where I could submit a piece like that. Would it make a better book idea? There so many great books on and about graphic novels already. I'm not sure what I could do that hasn't already been done 80 trillion times over. 

Most of what I can find regarding the teen market are "Celebrity this, celebrity that" type of things, or "Insert social problem here" stories. I know there have to be interests teens have beyond Vampires and drug/sexual abuse awareness. Right? Embarrassed

Advice and possible magazines to check out, please!

Okami



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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 05:01:50 PM »

Are there different, distinct types of graphic novels? If there are, maybe an article could explain and define? It could be for younger readers, too, not just teens, I'm thinking.
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 05:09:37 PM »

Well, the market for essays like that is a little weak in Kidlit but if you wanted to do it for a parenting magazine introducing parents to this cool thing known as the graphic novel and why is might be a great thing for teens to read, you would go that way. The focus would be just in talking to parents about (1) what a graphic novel is and (2) why they're a great book form for teens, especially reluctant readers.
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Okami
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 05:17:50 PM »

Well, the market for essays like that is a little weak in Kidlit but if you wanted to do it for a parenting magazine introducing parents to this cool thing known as the graphic novel and why is might be a great thing for teens to read, you would go that way. The focus would be just in talking to parents about (1) what a graphic novel is and (2) why they're a great book form for teens, especially reluctant readers.

Is it possible for me to reach that market? I'm not even a parent, and with my penchant for emotion breakdowns, won't be one for a very long time. How would I present myself to an audience I only understand from the one being parented as opposed to parenting someone else. It's not the same thing.

Not shooting down the idea, just never thought of that market.
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Mikki S
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 08:30:15 PM »

Okami,

why would you not write an article about graphic novels for parents to read in the same way you would write one for any age kids?  You don't have to be a 12 year old to write for middle-graders, or a 16 year old to write for teens, so I can't see why you would think you have to be a parent to write for parents.

I personally don't like graphic novels, but if you do, that's your first start.  And if there is actually some difference between one type of graphic novel and another, then you have the beginnings of a NF article right there.

Just write the article to the best of your ability, and send it to your instructor. He/she will give you a good critique, tell you what's good or not so good, you can revise and edit, and it will be ready to send to a parenting market...if that's where you AND your instructor think it should go.

As to where to find those magazines...use your CWIM and Magazine Markets resources.
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2009, 08:30:47 PM »

Actually that's a question that makes me laugh since I wrote **ALL** my parenting articles (and I even had a COLUMN in a parenting magazine) when I was not a parent and not married. I personally found it much easier to write parenting articles as a single person. But really, the question isn't "Are you a parent" but "do you know something they want to know." Parents of reluctant readers are ALWAYS looking for something to get their kids reading and graphic novels are an excellent way to get a kid reading.
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Okami
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2009, 01:08:36 AM »

Maybe so, but I'm starting to wonder what I could say that's both relevant to the parenting market that's not a rehash of what's already been done.

I mean, there are so many resources online and in print that give parents a guide into what their kids might read. I'm not sure what I really have to offer parents in general.

I know there are parenting markets in my market guides, but I honestly don't know where to begin to narrow down where I could go. I'd been focusing so much on the kid and teen markets  that this is frankly I'm lost when it comes to going for markets where I don't have first-hand experience.

Also, Jan, you're going to have to be specific with me on this note. How did you break into the parenting markets?
Did you send in recipes or other filler materials? What was your column about? I just don't get how you can write articles for parenting markets if you've never been a parent or had lots of experience with kids on a regular basis.

I know that not all the articles and columns in parenting magazines are about raising children, but I just don't know how I fit into that market. I also must admit that my magazine research hasn't gone well. No matter how many times I consult this year's CWIM or the magazine market guides I got as I took this course, I always get stymied with where I can send my work. Maybe I'm just overreacting, but I really get lost. Now that I'm at a point of the course where market research and magazine targeting is vital, I'm just constantly confused and unsure. I NEED HELP!

I mean, for assignment 6 I chose NEW MOON as my target magazine, even though they don't take submissions from men. But none of the other girl magazines in my market guides seemed a good fit in terms of the audience. It was a sports story and all the sports-oriented magazines I found were for boys. IF there were girl sports magazines in my market guides, I'm having no luck finding them.

After hearing yours and Mikki's replies, I'm starting to think that writing about graphic novels this isn't the right focus for me.

I know my course materials keep telling me that nonfiction writers are storytellers too, but it's just not the same kind of story telling. Aside from being true to the facts, you also have to know who best benefits the information, and avoid sounding like a dry encyclopedia listing.

I know I can do it, I just don't know how to go about it. Anymore advice?

Okami

PS, Mikki, not all graphic novels are the same. There's a great variety just like in straight prose books. Sorry you never found ones you like, but I wouldn't take them lightly. OR belittle them.

PPS, Also, I should make clear that for assignment 8 I only have to write 3 plans of what I could write. When my instructor writes back to me, she'll pick what she feels is the most worthwhile for me to work on for my assignment 9 piece. I'm worried she'll want me to write the nonfiction topic I come up with since she knows my preference has been fiction outside of assignment 4. That's why its crucial that I pick something I can both handle, and am interested in.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 01:15:19 AM by Okami » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2009, 02:52:31 AM »

Okami,

I did not belittle graphic novels, I simply said I don't like them.  Sorry if you took it the wrong way. Also, I don't see how you took what I said as an indication that you should not write about graphic novels.  You like them, so, as I said, that's your starting point.  You say that they are not all alike, so again, you have the basis for an outline for a NF article.  What IS a graphic novel?  How are they different from strictly prose novels?  How do they differ from one another?  What types are appropriate for what age groups: middle grade, YA ?  Who are the authors who specifically write these novels?  What subjects do graphic novels lend themselves to?  Good grief, there is a world of information you can write about, and if you like them, you would do a good job.

I don't mean to be harsh with you, but I've been a teacher for many years, and I just don't understand how things with ICL can be so difficult for you.  You need to get past your fears and start putting your nose to the grindstone when it comes to doing your OWN research.  No one can do it for you, because no one but you knows what you are writing about.

As far as writing something for kids but intended for a parent market that is relevant and not a rehash of what's been written before, you can say that about any fiction story you try to write for any age group.  They have ALL been done, Okami...you are not going to come up with a unique story or plot.  The only thing that is going to be unique is the spin you put on it, the characters you create, and the conflicts and resolutions you put into the story from your own perception.

If you want to know a little something about Creative Non-Fiction, I have some information about it...and about two totally different Creative NF that I wrote...on my blog, which is:

www.mikki-wordpainter.blogspot.com

Perhaps that will give you an idea about how to create a "story" out of a non-fiction project.

How to narrow down your markets? Here are some ideas:
 
1. You go through your resource books page by page, and you mark each magazine/book publisher that accepts the kind of fiction/NF that you are writing: eg. historical fiction, fantasy, talking animals, science/environment/animal  etc. NF.  You mark each of those pages with those publishers with one of the narrow sticky strips so they stick out of the book.

2.  You go back a second time and you see which of the publishers you've marked will accept unsolicited queries.  Any that you have marked first that won't accept unsolicited queries, you remove.

3.  You go back to your own work, and decide what pieces that you've finished or have as WIP are fantasy, talking animals, enviromental NF, etc., and you put a sticky on each of those pieces that lists the publishers who will accept your queries about that particular piece of work.

4.  You go to the library to the children's section, and you sit down for several hours and read the magazines that you have marked, from the front page to the last page...and then read each one again.

5.  You take notes...you write down the type of article or story and style of writing that is in each story/article in each magazine.  This gives you an idea of what each magazine wants and publishes.

6.  You go home and compare your article/story and style of writing and see which magazine(s) will best fit what you do.

7.  You go back to the library and do it all again, until you KNOW which magazines your material will be the best fit for.

THEN you write your queries and send them out.

We ALL do this, Okami.  We each do it all on our own.  No one does it for us.  It's time-consuming and irritating and frustrating, and it HAS to be done.  By YOU.  Not by me, or Jan or Kate or anyone else.  Only you, because only you know anything about your writing.

There is absolutely no reason why you should have trouble finding magazines that your work will fit into, because they are there.  It just takes work to find them.

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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2009, 06:51:09 AM »

Okami,

I wrote parenting articles about all sorts of things: nonviolent software for teens <-- my column), the problem of teens and guns (that article actually resulted in a publisher asking ME to write for them), the value of a male mentor in the life of boys raised by moms alone, parenting resources online, the change in the media's approach to "heroes" and violence, and others...it's been a while and I would have to check my clip files.

Now, technically ALL of those things had been "done" before. Honestly with parenting markets, you're not really plowing new ground. Sometimes you're reminding parents of things they already know. Sometimes you're just exploring something you find interesting...and virtually anything YOU find interesting will interest someone else. When the "someone else" seemed like parenting, I submitted to parenting magazines.

I normally begin with magazines that belong to the parenting publications of America -- regional parenting magazines. There are some in the market guide. They don't pay so nicely as the big magazines but they accept with great cheerfulness and don't usually want to buy all rights.

You know, someone very smart told me something a long time ago when I started listing reasons why I would fail if I tried something emotionally painful. He said, "If you decide you're defeated, you probably are. So never decide that."

I'm defeatist in nature but I actually WANT to write for a living...it's my job. So I just refuse to decide to be defeated. As I've persued this job, I've had to do things that were incredibly emotionally painful. I am absolutely PHOBIC about talking to strangers on the phone. Honestly, I get sick at my stomach and sweat -- but I do it because I need interviews sometimes. I also don't like approaching strangers for what feels like a favor...but sometimes you HAVE to if you're going to do interviews. So I do...even though it feels really bad. I have honestly gotten off of phone interviews and VOMITED...it's that kind of issue. But that's not going to stop me from doing this writing thing -- it just makes parts of it really really hard. Hard doesn't equal defeat unless YOU decide it does.

You absolutely positively have to stop making defeat your default setting because it's going to suck all the emotional energy out of looking for the right path. Personally, I would send a sports story with a girl protag to CRICKET. You don't really need a "sports" magazine. You need a general interest magazine (unless this story doesn't have a plot that would make sense to anyone at all except an enthusiast of that sport. CRICKET is looking for stories with conflict, action, and movement -- a sports story would be fine for them.) I wouldn't send it to the ONE magazine that doesn't want submissions from men. There is a difference between giving something a good solid try and failing, and picking the one idea that cannot win and following that so you can be sure you fail.
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Okami
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2009, 02:34:46 PM »

Mikki,

I DON'T expect anyone to do my work for me, and I'm sorry I gave you that impression, but if it were as EASY as you put it, I wouldn't have posted here at all. Angry Sad Cry

I'm NOT afraid to do anything you said, I just find it difficult, way more dificult than just finishing a story I've started.

Just because I'm having trouble, doesn't mean I expect someone else to fix all my problems. Again, I wasn't trying to give that impression at all, okay? Cool

Jan, thanks for explaining what you meant better. If I am afraid of one thing, it's this-

That I'll write something that serves no purpose whatsoever. Plus, I don't by the "It's all been done before" in the sense that there could five biographies about a historical figure. THey may all be about the same person, with similar information, but they WON'T be clones of each other.

One could have new research, letters, or anecdotes the others don't.

My point is, I want to know that even if I'm just "Reminding" somone about something they already know in an article, it still has something worth offering.

I mean, why would you need eight identical articles on say, fixing your clogged sink?

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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2009, 03:56:01 PM »

Well, if the magazine you are approaching has already done clogged sinks, they won't buy it. But when you find one that hasn't done clogged sinks...you're golden. I actually never think about that sort of thing at all...if it's interesting to ME, it will be interesting to other people and I don't worry about how many other people. I just try the markets that generally buy very basic how-to on home improvement (if doing your clogged sink piece) and then it either sells or it doesn't. I don't spend a single moment agonizing about it. I figure I have a near endless stream of potential STUFF in me to be written -- some will sell, some won't. None of it's personal...so I write something, look for a market that seems possible, send it...if it doesn't sell, I'll look for another possible...send it...if it doesn't sell, I'll look for another possible. Eventually it either sells or doesn't but by that time I've written three other things. So I move on.

And honestly if you wrote something that served no purpose other than a little more writing practice for you -- big deal. Honestly...you move on. But you don't know it served no purpose unless you stick the thing into the "plan" (which I would outline near the bottom of this post.)

Really, just say "no" to all this stuff that's making you self-defeating.

In a series of novels by Robert Crais, there's this character who has arrows tatooed on his biceps to remind him to move forward constantly. That's kinda what you have to do if you want to be a writer who sells something so readers can read and benefit from it. You just have to move forward...not give into the doubts, frets, questions of the worth of the writing, and defeating stuff your inner self is tossing at you constantly.

The plan goes like this:
write the best you can at this time
pick some place
submit
write the best you can at this time
pick some place
submit
write the best you can at this time
pick some place
submit

And nothing, nothing nothing needs to get in the way of the plan. Sure, you're get rejections. None will come with a bomb, anthrax virus or voodoo magic...they'll just be rejections. When it happens, you toss it into the plan in the spot directly after "write" -- you pick some place and submit it again. When you run out of places, you toss it in a drawer and go back to the plan with something else.

I've been paid really tidy sums for writing that actually wasn't so good...though it was the best I could do at the time with the constraints on me. And I learned from it. I've also gotten rejections on stuff that I still believe was very good until I had to toss it in a drawer. Such is the writing life. But I don't spend a lot of time fretting about past suckage writing because...it gets in the way of the plan. And I spend zero time fretting about whether my article is worth anything -- I was interested in the subject enough to pursue it so I trust that others will be interested enough to read it and find value in it. If I'm wrong...no biggee...I ended up with extra writing and research practice. It's all good.
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2009, 09:30:22 PM »

Between Nanowrimo, life, and my other writing projects, I'm glad I started on Assignment 8 before I got assignment 7 back from my instructor last Friday. But I'm having some more trouble.

The hardest part for me now is both coming up with at least ONE nonfiction article plan to go with the two story plans I came up with.

Nonfiction just isn't my strength. But I'm slowly starting to develop a taste for it, but it's a day-by-day thing for me.
My problem is narrowing the focus of a topic that interests me.

For example, I LOVE graphic novels, and for a time in my mid to late teens, I read more of them than straight prose books, now I read more straight prose books and am just getting back into the graphic novel scene.

I've wanted to write a nonfiction piece about how I got into them and a couple of my favorites, but I don't know how to go about it. It's that issue with narrowing my focus. But also I wouldn't know where I could submit a piece like that. Would it make a better book idea? There so many great books on and about graphic novels already. I'm not sure what I could do that hasn't already been done 80 trillion times over. 

Most of what I can find regarding the teen market are "Celebrity this, celebrity that" type of things, or "Insert social problem here" stories. I know there have to be interests teens have beyond Vampires and drug/sexual abuse awareness. Right? Embarrassed

Advice and possible magazines to check out, please!

Okami

Hey Okami, I see some interesting posts with some good advice.  I wonder if your article could begin with a personal anecdote since you loved them at one point.  I don't even know what a graphic novel is so I would find an article on graphic novels interesting.  Maybe not all teens have been tuned in either to the graphic novel?  Food for thought - all the best with your article and assigment #8.  As I recall you don't actually have to write the full article, just the outline and 3 magazine matches. bjb


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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2009, 09:31:58 PM »

PS - I must add that I think Assignment #8 is a little scary!
Audrey Shocked

Hi Audrey, I remember assignment #8 being tiring and more challenging than the others.  I became more confident when I completed it with reasonable success.  All the best with it - bjb
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Okami
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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2009, 10:51:51 PM »

Well, if the magazine you are approaching has already done clogged sinks, they won't buy it. But when you find one that hasn't done clogged sinks...you're golden. I actually never think about that sort of thing at all...if it's interesting to ME, it will be interesting to other people and I don't worry about how many other people. I just try the markets that generally buy very basic how-to on home improvement (if doing your clogged sink piece) and then it either sells or it doesn't. I don't spend a single moment agonizing about it. I figure I have a near endless stream of potential STUFF in me to be written -- some will sell, some won't. None of it's personal...so I write something, look for a market that seems possible, send it...if it doesn't sell, I'll look for another possible...send it...if it doesn't sell, I'll look for another possible. Eventually it either sells or doesn't but by that time I've written three other things. So I move on.

Sadly, I just don't work that fast. It takes me weeks or months to get things I feel aren't junk riddled with spelling mistakes, grammar woes, and don't even get me started on punctuation. So for me, moving on isn't that easy. Too many times I've made that mistake of coming up with something I can't use.

You say some things sell and some don't. This is true. But it's also true that nothing sells if it's not of quality. You always say time is irrelevant, but if it takes months to come up witha pieces, and write it well, what does that say?
You can't start any kind of career if it takes so long just to get something workable, never mind landing a sale.


And honestly if you wrote something that served no purpose other than a little more writing practice for you -- big deal. Honestly...you move on. But you don't know it served no purpose unless you stick the thing into the "plan" (which I would outline near the bottom of this post.)

Really, just say "no" to all this stuff that's making you self-defeating.

I don't think how I feel is completely self-defeating. I'm just saying

In a series of novels by Robert Crais, there's this character who has arrows tatooed on his biceps to remind him to move forward constantly. That's kinda what you have to do if you want to be a writer who sells something so readers can read and benefit from it. You just have to move forward...not give into the doubts, frets, questions of the worth of the writing, and defeating stuff your inner self is tossing at you constantly.

I know who you mean, know the series well. But I can tell you right now, if I had to live his life, I'd be a lot more broken and lost than I really am. I'm not lying when I say I couldn't that guy's life, without being the kind of person I despise most--The jerky loner no one can stand being around. That isn't me, and I NEVER want it to be. That doesn't mean I'm going to give into doubt either. But let's be fair, blind faith alone isn't enough to keep you going. I need to KNOW I'm moving in the right direction, regardless of what I have to do to get to my primary goal.

You keep saying to move forward, and I'm doing the best I can, more than you could ever know. I worked my head off, learning everything I could, writing all the while, whether I was sick, sad, or on the verge of emotional collapse.

Not you, Mikki, or anyone else has to convince me that this is hard work. But there are just times when I feel like all I'm doing is spinning my wheels. Do I have to be as pessimist to feel that way sometimes? I don't see myself as a pessimist.

You say it's not personal, but it is. Weren't you the one who told me that writing what you love and most believe in is one of the keys to success in anything? I can't love what I do without it being personal. How can I expect to interest my reader if I'm not interested in what I'm writing. You said that yourself. I do know what you're saying, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just weak there, despite all my relentless effort, time, and devotion to my craft.

I'm NOT going to let a mountain of rejections get me down. I refuse to give up, because I'd always regret it.

As much as I love writing for the sheer joy of putting stories together, and always will, I want to share some of my stories with the world at large. Without trying to sound like a jerk, I don't want all my stories to be cast off to the drawer, never to be seen by anyone. That's partly why I do MWO as much as I can. I want to share my stories with others, period.

I can't do that if I spend months on every piece, only to have it not be good enough, for whatever reason. My writing may improve from those past attempts, but it doesn't change the fact that I can't get my foot in the door.


The plan goes like this:
write the best you can at this time
pick some place
submit
write the best you can at this time
pick some place
submit
write the best you can at this time
pick some place
submit

My biggest concern with that (NOT self-defeating anxiety) but concern is that I'll pick the wrong place thinking it was the right one. How many times I'm rejected doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as the thought of missing the mark completely on where a given piece is best suited. Is that wrong in and of itself?

And nothing, nothing nothing needs to get in the way of the plan. Sure, you're get rejections. None will come with a bomb, anthrax virus or voodoo magic...they'll just be rejections. When it happens, you toss it into the plan in the spot directly after "write" -- you pick some place and submit it again. When you run out of places, you toss it in a drawer and go back to the plan with something else.

Again, rejections don't bother me that way. But not everyone moves on so automatically. I don't mean easy, since nothing ever is, but not everyone can make their emotions automatic like that. Not for lack of trying, but if a piece didn't sell or come together for whatever reason, coming up with a better piece isn't a finger snap. It's obvious you don't have a problem with that. May one day I feel the same.

I can't tell you how many times I've envied and admired writers who can write and edit their work so quickly, so thoroughly, and have tons of stories in circulation at one time. I read so many articles that tell you to have several projects circulating at any one time. I just can't work that fast. It took years to come up with half of my best stuff, years...

My point is, while you have your whole life to learn, at some point you need to do more than just learn, but deliver. Between Nanowrimo, this month's MWO that I'm going to take part in, and trying to strengthen my older work while writing new stuff, plus getting this assignment done by deadline, I'm doing everything in my power, please believe that.


But sometimes I feel like I'm going to be 50 or older just to sell one piece. I try to avoid thinking like that, but sometimes that thought comes into my head, whether I wanted it to or not.

Even so, I'm not going to quit, and there have been many times in the past when I thought I would.


I've been paid really tidy sums for writing that actually wasn't so good...though it was the best I could do at the time with the constraints on me. And I learned from it. I've also gotten rejections on stuff that I still believe was very good until I had to toss it in a drawer. Such is the writing life. But I don't spend a lot of time fretting about past suckage writing because...it gets in the way of the plan. And I spend zero time fretting about whether my article is worth anything -- I was interested in the subject enough to pursue it so I trust that others will be interested enough to read it and find value in it. If I'm wrong...no biggee...I ended up with extra writing and research practice. It's all good.
Sometimes I seriously wonder where you and Mikki get that steadfast outlook?

I don't consider myself a worrier, despite how I'm coming off some of the time. When I think of how focused and unflinching you and Mikki are, I feel like I'm a kid again, and not in an amusing way, if you know what I mean.

I'm doing my best to move forward. To not be easily discouraged. To "Move on, move forward" as you say. But like you I'm only human, and I have limits. You obviously have a higher breaking point than me, if you have one at all. :Smiley

« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 10:55:41 PM by Okami » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2009, 11:55:30 PM »

Dear Okami,

Please remember that some of us are much older than you--and the only reason I'm bringing that up, the only reason it's relevant here, is that being older does make one tougher. I'm thinking of what you refer to as Jan's and Mikki's steadfast outlook and higher breaking point, which may have been hard won over the years. Speaking for myself, it's much much easier to be philosophical and say, "Okay, no biggie, it's all good," at my age now than it was when I was your age. (Of course there's the downside, too: I don't have nearly as many years left to find success!  Grin )

About "picking the wrong place thinking it's the right one:" that's why you come up with a list of places rather than just one, so you can send a piece out again right away. Because even if you've made the perfect match, if they've just bought something similar to yours... oh well! There are so many reasons. We can't control everything.

Onward and upward. Seize the day! *Kate ducks in case Okami is getting ready to throw his keyboard at her...  Grin *
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Those who wish to sing always find a song. (Swedish proverb)
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