Today’s Blogging 101 Day 5 email challenge was all about experimenting with new themes and layouts for your blog, “even if you’re happy with the one your first chose.” Well, the theme I use, called the Expound Theme, is certainly not the first one I chose — I spent hours trying out dozens of layouts, colors, and styles — but I am really happy with it.
As the assignment says, you can get lost in the myriad choices, but if I have any downtime this weekend (maybe when I need a break from the pretty crazy ritual scene I’m writing in Finding Dragons‘ first chapter!), I might check out some of the Premium themes that cost money, since I really only looked at the Free ones before. But don’t worry, I think the site will stay exactly as it is (although I keep adding neat stuff to the sidebar, so be sure to keep an eye out for that).
But this talk of experimenting got me thinking. Even though I’m happy with what I first ‘chose’ as a focus of my blog — my journey to write the entire first draft of Finding Dragons, about 120,000 words, using the chapter-by-chapter outline I’ve already written — I think there’s an opportunity to expand my writing horizons here beyond just my novel.
In December 2015, I finally graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and Ancient History. One of the last classes I took was about writing and publishing non-fiction work, articles and interviews, things like that.
For our last big assignment, we had to interview someone “important” (so, not just a friend who was doing something cool), record it, transcribe it, and then write a mini-bio article about one aspect of that person (not a full on, pages long history) that we would then try to get published somewhere.
I thought about it for a long time, and finally decided to ask Marc Gunn, the Celtfather, a Celtic-Geek musician and podcaster whom I’ve been a fan of for many years, if I could do a phone interview with him for the assignment. To my amazement, he said yes, and we scheduled the call.
I wrote my list of questions, and then it was time to call him up. We talked for a half hour on the phone, and I admit I had to fangirl a little bit. I could hear his daughters playing in the background, it was adorable, and he was so nice and thoughtful, answering everything like a consummate professional. (Okay, I’m trying to stop fangirling, but it’s difficult, because he’s awesome.)
After my brush with fame was over, I transcribed the interview and realized I had a great theme running through it for an article that was less of a mini-bio, more of an overview of the artist, but that was fine with me. My husband helped me come up with a great title too, so I wrote the article and when I was done, I was super happy with it. I handed it in, and got an A on the assignment, the second one of the year that didn’t even require me to turn in a revised draft; after a few minor editing suggestions from my professor, and she said I was golden.
Then came the hard work of submitting it to websites to see if anyone would publish it. I thought I had a sure-fire hit on my hands, because after all,
Who would be able to turn down an article about an award winning podcaster and Celtic-Geek musician who plays funny fusions of Celtic music, Sci Fi and cats?
Well, as it turns out, everyone, apparently.
I don’t have any writing credits to my name, and I didn’t even have this blog at the time, so I never heard back from anyone. It was very discouraging, as a new writer, for no one to even respond (even after I sent THREE emails to the submission email at The Mary Sue, one of my most favorite geek websites to follow).
I know that freelance article writing isn’t ever going to be my passion or the way I pay the bills; I’ll stay at the paralegal job I really love and work on my novel in my spare time, and once the Dragons Trilogy books are finished (or maybe in between books), I’ll go back to my other historical novel set in 11th Century Spain.
But I’m really proud of this article. I even have dozens of links in it all set up and ready to go (I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m kinda link-crazy — in a good way, I think!). So now, what do I do?
Well, that finally leads me back to experimenting with this blog.
It’s Friday, a time to let down your hair and try something new. In point of fact, I’ve already taken a huge leap out of my comfort zone today and posted a photo of myself — GASP!! — on my About the Author page. (I just changed my hair completely and I really love it, so I took what might be my first good selfie ever.)
The next thing I’m going to do is to post my article.
As soon as it’s done, this will become a link to it, so go check it out and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to check out Marc’s music and podcasts for yourself, because he is really, really great.
I hope everyone has a great weekend! Go experiment with something new, and if you’re so inclined, let me know how it went in the comments!