Network News: A Story for Christmas

Gill James 
Once upon a time there was a lonely writer. She slaved away, on her laptop, on the corner of the kitchen table, fitting in as much writing as she could between working part-time at the accountant’s down the road and looking after her three primary-school-age children.
 It was very lonely and no one took her seriously as a writer. One day as she was surfing the net, trying to find some support for writers like herself, she stumbled across Words and Pictures.
This is really interesting, she thought. She signed up so that it would drop into her mailbox every day.

 A few weeks later she noticed that almost every Thursday there was an article about one of the local Networks.
That sounds so helpful, she thought. But she realised that to join a network she would need to join SCBWI. And she couldn’t quite afford that.
 “Have you any idea what you would like for Christmas?” her husband asked a few days later.
 “Do you think you could buy me a membership for SCBWI? It’s $10 cheaper if you apply before the end of the year.
 “What the heck’s that?” She explained as best she could.
Her husband shrugged. “If that’s what you really want.”
As soon as her membership was confirmed she contacted her local Network Coordinator. They talked on the phone later that day. She seemed very nice.
“We’re meeting for coffee next Thursday,” she said. “Why don’t you come along?”

She had to do this. She really did. But it was a little bit scary meeting a bunch of strangers. She needn’t have worried, though. They were all incredibly friendly and it was good to be able to chat to people who understood about writing and illustrating books for children.
Later in the year she attended a Scrawl-Crawl and came home with an idea for a chapter book.
She went to a Goal-setting Brunch and promised herself that she would send out some of her finished work to three agents.

 She joined a critique group and learned how to give and receive useful feedback.
The highlight of the year was when she showed some of her work to an editor who had come to talk to their network group. Okay, she’d had to pay a little extra to have this one-to-one and she only been allowed to submit three thousand words but it had been worth it.
 “There’s still some way to go,” said the editor. “But this definitely shows potential. You must keep at it.”
The year flew past. She was still getting rejections but at least now many of them included an encouraging note.
 “It’s just a matter of time,” said her SCBWI network friends.
It was soon December again.
“There’s a lot of cards this year,” said her husband as they were putting up the Christmas decorations. There were. She’d made so many new friends this year.
“Do you know what I’m thinking?” he looked at her and grinned. “Now that you’re getting somewhere with this writing lark I reckon I could easily turn the attic room into a little writing den for you.”
 She smiled. “Yes please.”

 It really was beginning to happen. Next step: when he introduced her to his new boss at the work’s do the following week would he say “She’s a writer.”
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