Tonight I had coffee with Amy Jo Ehman, city editor at Western Living magazine and author of Prairie Feast, A Writer's Journey Home for Dinner. She was kind enough to sit down with me and let me pick her brain on magazine writing, freelancing and writing in general.
It was a lovely evening, Amy is a gifted writer with an incredibly kind and generous spirit. Talking to her started all the rusted wheels and cobs in my brain turning. She gave me advice on possible magazines I might want to try breaking into, on the types of pitches they're looking for and things to keep in mind with query letters. If there's one thing all potential writers should keep in mind, it's that a query letter should be of the highest possible quality. It's an editor's first taste of your writing, and if it isn't top notch, why would they keep reading? Having a great idea isn't enough, the presentation has to be stellar as well and fit with the magazine's tone, style and interests.
Talking to her, I felt the ideas begin to flow. After all, there's something so inspirational about talking shop with a fellow writer. (I use the term 'fellow writer' loosely, as she's clearly miles and miles ahead of me.) You'd think writers would be competitive and catty with each other (and God knows, some of them are), but as for the rest of us, there's a communal spirit, a comradery that binds us together. Maybe because we all know what it's like, the struggles, the ups and downs. Fellow writers get it in a way that others can't. I don't know what it is, but sitting with Amy I felt a renewal of hope, a surge of will to keep on trying.
I think it's important that all writers connect with the writing community around them. It keeps us motivated, challenges us to take our work to the next level, and offers much needed support. If at all possible, you should check out what's available in your area and tap into the creative channels that surround you. You'd be surprised just how much it helps to just sit down and have coffee with a fellow writer. God knows, it does wonders for me.