Unforgettable Moment as a Writer

Freeda Baker Nichols at her book signing at Hemingway Writers' Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas

Freeda Baker Nichols at her book signing at Hemingway Writers’ Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas

My most unforgettable moment as a writer happened some years ago.
It was not when I made my first sale, nor second, nor even third sale although that qualified me to join the American Pen Women.
I’m often encouraged by attending writers’ conferences where it’s exciting to meet editors and agents, but my unforgettable moment did not happen there. Nor did it happen because I’m a member of Writers of the Foothills, By-liners, Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas or the Oklahoma Writers Federation.
The moment came after I’d spent years of “becoming a writer.” Actually, I was feeling sympathetic toward my husband because he had dealt with my temperament, my discouragement, and at times, my tears as I attempted to write.
One day, feeling successful over my published work, I looked at my husband, and said, “It must be difficult to live with a writer.”
“I imagine it would be,” he replied.
At once, my head came out of the clouds.
Because of his comment, I took an objective look at myself as a writer. One of my published articles had brought 25 worn dollar bills to my hands. True, the film for the photograph had cost $8. And I put 40 miles on the Plymouth. But the person I interviewed offered me a free canoe trip on Little Red River. I took a rain check and sent the article out to two more editors. Maybe, just maybe, one of them would also pay $25 for the story of a new canoe business along the Little Red.
The very first payment for my work was $18 for a short sketch—a Mother’s Day piece which appeared in the Arkansas Gazette. I wrote it one day when I was in bed with the flu. The local editor turned it down, but I sent it to the state paper on Tuesday before Mother’s Day, knowing they required six weeks for seasonal pieces. The article appeared in the daily paper the following Sunday. Tears of joy slipped down my face.
“Those are the kind of tears I like to see,” my husband said. “Happy ones.”
They are the kind I prefer to shed.
Not all tears actually spill over, but often they threaten to. Like when I find my mailbox empty and before I remember that an empty mailbox doesn’t mean a rejection.
Rejections come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. My early ones were form letters, causing me to think that maybe a computer read my manuscript. Now, I receive nice rejections. How can that be? They have personal messages and handwritten signatures from real editors.
Acceptances are important and unforgettable because they make me part of the writing profession– a highly competitive field. Checks are important because they help pay for my computer, paper, pencils, postage and groceries.
All writers start with a desire to write and a dream to succeed. Hard work is merely a stepping stone upon which writers must stand in order to see their byline in print.
Seeing my byline in print was the next best thing to being paid for my writing.
May I suggest to new writers, keep your head out of the clouds and watch for your own most unforgettable moment! It will happen!

Books by Freeda Baker Nichols

Books by Freeda Baker Nichols

14 comments on “Unforgettable Moment as a Writer

  1. Amy Lea says:

    Love this story!! It actually made me tear up. I love reading your stories, always have…especially the ones about Banner Mountain. I guess because somewhere along in those stories I can see bits and pieces of Mamaw. Sometimes it’s in the way you describe something, or react to something or maybe something you said, I’m not quite sure…but whatever it is makes me think of her and also makes me proud you’re my aunt. You have a gift, Aunt Freeda, and a drive to never give up on what you love doing. Love you and Uncle Gene bunches!! 🙂

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    • Well, thank you, Amy Lea! How sweet of you to share all these kind words. So heartfelt, and I appreciate your feelings so much. You have written all this very well. You’re definitely a part of our Harper-Baker ancestry of Banner Mountain. And I think you also have a gift in writing and photography. We love you, too, and we wish you much happiness. Our love to you, always.

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  2. Great advice, Freeda. 🙂

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  3. love reading of how “real” writers react…and how they feel when their joy of writing is fulfilled…must be awesome!…loved the photo!

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    • Marilyn, it’s good to hear from you. Writing is joy, disappointment, along with lots of work. Have to stick with it, once you start. But readers and commenters like yourself and others make it all worthwhile.

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  4. Freeda what you wrote above I s wonderful, You wrote an entire story with this one post. You have been lucky to have a husband who encourages you at the right moments and to build your confidence when you felt doubt. So now that you have taken the time to read my comment, I say thank you…..so now for you back to the computer, so you can keep up the good work so many enjoy reading

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  5. dotlatjohn says:

    Good thoughts, Freeda. I’ve been submitting more this year and reminding myself if you don’t submit your work, you’ll never see it in print. It’s just getting the right piece to the right place at the right time!

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  6. Dot says:

    We sure have to put our egos away and keep our feelings in check. Writers who are willing to put themselves out there for acceptance or rejection are brave souls.

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  7. Great advice for new writers. I enjoyed your moment. Your husband is wise. I began as a newspaper reporter and saw my name in print daily. But, I remember the first time I sold a freelance story I wrote about the Migrant Rest Center to the Columbus Dispatch Sunday Magazine and earned $25. Such joy. Somehow that confirmation meant I was on my way. Now, I am starting all over again in another genre.

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