Compliments As Currency

For as long as I have can remember, people have told me that I am a good writer.  I have been advised to “get that published” more times than I can count. Right from my first original story written for a writing assignment in Grade Three, all the way through High School, into my professional role as a classroom teacher and now, in the golden glow of my retirement years, people have been very kind in their reactions to the words I write. Believe me, I am most appreciative of the positive feedback. If compliments were currency, you and I, Dear Reader, would be enjoying a wonderful meal at a fine restaurant, right now.

As I approached my retirement, one of the goals that I had set for myself was to give my writing a chance to grow into something more than social media posts and commentary. I wanted to rekindle my love of writing and of being creative. To do so meant devoting consistent periods of time each week to my craft. Being retired has been a wonderful tonic in that regard. The posts I have created for this blog have helped remind me of how it feels to be a writer. These posts have, also, caused me to have a more creative world view. Now, for example, when I am out for a stroll or mowing the lawn, my thoughts are not on the weeds in the grass but more, on how the shadows are being cast by the tree in my yard or the sound of the waves crashing on the shores of Lake Ontario. I used to think about work-related things, mere months ago. Now, I find myself thinking more like a writer would and that pleases me.

My last blog post was two and half weeks ago. Let me briefly explain my absence. I have not been idle.  After I published my last post, I began renovations on the sunroom that sits at the back of our house. For any of you who have done your own renovations, you know there is no getting around the fact that you have to work hard. Demolition takes times, as does prepping for the rebuild. Nails have to be nailed, word sawed to measure, paint applied in colours, floors laid. The work time used to complete the renovations came out of the quiet time I had been setting aside in the mornings for writing.

However, while working on my own in the sunroom, I had time to think. My thoughts manifested themselves in the form of an idea for a story. An original story that, in my mind, I saw as a Picture Book. So, as the paint was drying on the sunroom walls, I sat down and spent several days fleshing the story out and coming up with a rough copy or first draft.  I finished the story toward the middle of last week. At that point, I had some decisions to make.

The Children’s Literature market is a thriving segment of the Book Publishing Industry in North America. In my previous roles as a Teacher-Librarian or as a classroom educator, I have interacted with this market as a consumer. I have become familiar with publishing companies, with authors and with the process of marketing books. It is a big business; one that does not suffer fools lightly. Consequently, in order to be competitive with the tens of thousands of other authors seeking “to be published”, I knew that I had to treat this new story differently than I do for my blog posts, for instance.

I am in control of my blog posts. When I finish typing these words, I will not consult editors or illustrators or finance and marketing experts. Instead, I will simply click on the “Publish” button at the top of my screen and my words will be made available you in your home on your screen of choice.  It costs me, as the author and you, as the reader, nothing but time to be involved in this creative transaction.

That is not the case in the real world of book publishing. Books don’t appear in book stores and at on-line retailers by magic. They are produced, marketed, distributed and promoted by people who all need to be paid for their services. For any publishing company to agree to publish my story, they would have to consider, not only the literary merits of my work but, also, the probability of my book being a revenue-producing investment for the owner and/or shareholders of the company.  I get that. I understand and appreciate the business side of publishing my work. I cannot divorce the financial reality from wish to have my story see the light of day.

So, that having been said, I have decided to go ahead and initiate the publication process anyway and honour my original, pre-retirement goal of giving my writing a chance. Late last week, I sent a copy of my rough draft to two friends; one with experience in the world of kidlit and one with more experience in the craft of writing and creating memorable characters and scenes. I asked them both for feedback. I chose my two friends carefully because I knew that they would give targeted feedback that would help me polish the story for submission purposes. When I have received both critiques, I intend to let my eldest daughter, Leah, read my story. While slightly older than my intended audience, she will be a good judge as to the quality and reasonableness of my dialogue, for example. It is not easy having my writing critiqued because my story is my baby and, like most writers, I am very protective of it. But, to be the best story possible, I acknowledge the need for constructive advice. I feel fortunate to be part of a supportive community of writers. I know “my baby” is in good hands.

I will keep you all abreast of developments as they occur. I am happy that you are coming along for this part of my journey and invite you to see it through with me to fruition. Your support and encouragement is what has gotten me to this point in my writing career. Thanks for everything you do, in terms of reading my posts, sharing them with your friends, offering comments and so on. It all means the world to me.


Gotta love the New Yorker Magazine. Hopefully, my story won’t lay an egg!

Come on!  You know you were thinking it, too. πŸ™‚

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

24 thoughts on “Compliments As Currency”

  1. I envy people who have a gift of expressing themselves in written form. I have been an avid reader since before i can remember. Several times a day I would hear my mom say “Get your nose out of that book and either come here, go there, get ready, go outside, finish eating first or get ready for bed. Today I would look almost normal as it would be a phone I would be gazing at. I once had a dream of being a writer – except I have no gift for it…i only wish I did! Good luck and I am so looking forward to reading your words!

    1. Sorry that you were told to get your nose out of a book. My eldest daughter is a voracious reader and one Christmas, not too long ago, her grandparents gave her a new book plus, a bookmark in the shape of a nose because she always has her nose in a book, too. The world of language is a wonderful to be immersed in. Keep reading. I’ll keep writing. Hopefully, we will be a match. πŸ˜€β™₯οΈπŸ“š

      1. No need to be sorry….it was never said in a negative way…. we had quite an extensive library at home and I used the local library regularly. We were encouraged to read except when it interfered with regular family activities.

    1. We’ll see what happens…..probably nothing but, enough people publish books each year so, why not me. I always have the blog to fall back on if it doesn’t work out but, it would be cool if it did, just once. πŸ˜€πŸ“š

    1. Thank you. I am only in the early stages but, I am going to give it a go and see where it takes me. It is nice, now that I am retired, to have the time to commit to such a project. Thanks for your support. It means a lot.

  2. WHAT??? How did NOT share this information with us last weekend when we had dinner???? WOW!! Glad I read your post today…so I can stay in the loop!!

    1. Thank you, Tara. Not that being a published author is the be all and end all but, just the same, it would be something to see a book of mine in a book store, just once. Long road ahead yet, as you can appreciate, no doubt. Thanks for touching base, I appreciate it.

  3. I live on a ranch in the Colorado Rockies and we have over 100 chickens so I know all about eggs! Getting published is hard and I am just waiting on God’s timing for it and in the meantime publish my posts on WordPress. Keep up the good work!

    1. A ranch in the Rockies! Well now, that much be a lot of beauty to behold every day. You are lucky to love in such a spot. Thanks for finding my blog, btw. πŸ˜€πŸ‘

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