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An open letter to subscribers


Writing Etc. – October 8, 2013

ISSN: 1545-5580

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In This Issue:

Notes from Minnesota: An Open Letter to Writing Etc. Subscribers

Life is Camouflaged by Beth Ann Erickson

2013 Action Plan to Jumpstart Your Writing Career


This issue is sponsored by:

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Notes from Minnesota:

I wanted to take a moment to thank you. I want to thank you for your kind support this last ten plus years I’ve been churning out issue after issue.

I especially want to thank you for your incredibly kind reaction to my recent cancer diagnosis.

I’ll be honest, it’s been a terrible few months. To try to describe the physical, mental, and spiritual pain this event has wrought would tax even the best writer. And since, I am, and will always be, basically a hack, I won’t begin to try.

I just wanted you to know how much your support has meant.

If you emailed and I didn’t respond, it’s not because I didn’t read your kind words. I honestly tried to answer each and every email. But, I didn’t.

I was pretty good at answering for a while, but then I began to get overwhelmed. So many of you have dealt with this beast called “cancer” and some of you are waging a valiant fight. Your stories broke my heart, they made me smile, they helped me feel less alone in a situation where, despite the best support, each person is truly alone.

It’s a dark night of the soul, this cancer stuff. Then to add surgical issues on top of a raging ecoli infection inside a nine inch incision and I figure I have a small idea what hell may entail. Then there’s the whole food thing. Life minus two feet (or more) of colon makes for an interesting new life experience.

I never shared the true difficulties of this situation, the sleepless nights, the terror that strikes at a moment’s notice, awaking from a sweet dream realizing I had reentered my personal waking nightmare, the crushing defeat I felt the first time I walked into a building labeled “cancer center.” Hint: I knew I was screwed when the receptionist handed me a cookie. Everyone knows when you enter a medical establishment, you’re supposed to be treated like cr*p. Not there. The nicer they got, the more I realized I was in really hot water.

But being surrounded by exceedingly thin, hairless, people, each with their own story, realizing they were now my peers… let’s just say I never ate my cookie. I couldn’t swallow.

Those first couple months are a vicodin haze interrupted by pangs of pain, the rip of bandages, and one very sore belly. At one point, my incision leaked so badly, I covered it with a couple sanitary napkins. Not exactly sterile, but it gave me time to watch an entire episode of Dexter uninterrupted.

I remember the love of my family. I remember your kind messages. I remember the day I quit using a cane when I walked. That was my first day of freedom.

I began by heading to the post office. Then I was walking a block. Today I’m counting my distance in half hour increments. It feels good to approach familiar territory again.

But still that dark cloud hangs. Cancer. Will it come back? Where will it show up next?

I have a good chance of living at least five years. The State of Minnesota requires I go to the oncologist regularly for that entire five years. I’ll also need annual CAT scans. I suppose that’s a good thing.

In the mean time, I write. It’s the only thing I can kinda/sorta do. Despite this terrible experience, I’m profoundly lucky. It was pure, dumb luck that docs found the malignant tumor. It was even crazier that its sinister roots were within millimeters of entering my abdomen.

Stage Two. T3N0M0. Adenocarcinoma. My vocabulary has expanded as my colon has decreased.

And I’m one of the lucky ones.

My deepest regards goes out to every single person who sent a note of encouragement during this new adventure. A hat tip to everyone who shares my adventure. You’re a brave bunch. I hope all your stories unfold exactly the way you hope.



Dawn Colclasure’s 365 Tips for Writers is now available on Kindle. Check it out, download it, and get writing. Here’s the link:

~~~~~~~~~~~~ Feature Article ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Editor’s Note: This is an “oldie but goodie” from long ago. It’s probably our most popular article, appearing in not only Jumpstart Your Writing Career” but in other e-mags and books (such as the NAWW Feminine Writes”). After today’s Notes from Minnesota, it seemed only fitting to run this today… enjoy!

Life is Camouflaged

By Beth Ann Erickson

Let’s take a minute to discuss what it means to be a writer.

I take daily walks. Not because I want to, but because my little Rat Terrier would act berserk all afternoon if I didn’t. So every morning I snap on her leash and head out the door.

Because I live in a small town, our route tends to be the same: We walk the parameter of our fair city — either clockwise or counterclockwise — resulting in a good twenty-minute stroll.

The unchanging sameness of each days trek has taught me something valuable that I’ve adopted in my life as a writer: Life is camouflaged. Let me explain….

When I began this daily journey around town I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d soon become bored seeing the same houses, the same woods, the same roads day after day after day after day. But that’s not what happened.

As Lucy (my dear puppy) and I traveled our daily path it was as though scales fell from my eyes. I began to see things I’d never noticed before.

Subtle changes my neighbors had made to their houses began to whisper for my attention. Birds I’d never seen before — bright birds like Blue Jays and Cardinals — began to appear like a developing photograph. Squirrels, muskrats, cats, raccoons, fox — all these animals live in the same town as me — and I never knew it.

So here my point: As writers it is our job to notice the things other people can’t or don’t have the time to see. It’s our job to look at something long enough for the camouflage to disappear and for the scales to be removed from our eyes.

We have the daunting task of not only living life, but stepping away long enough to really see what’s going on — in all places, and in all situations. We need to see the hidden bird, the quiet gesture of a coworker, the nonverbal communication other people miss. It’s these observations that make our writing come alive.

In a nutshell, life is camouflaged. Writers need to see through that camouflage and show this real world to others.

Go for a walk today. Or look out your window. See something you’ve never noticed before. Now write about it.


If you haven’t done it yet, pick up your copy of Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, today.


2013 Action Plan to Jumpstart Your Writing Career

If you don’t already keep a journal you really should. Far too many significant events slip away because they’re not recorded.

Think nothing happens in your life? Think you’ll remember “unforgettable” moments?

Totally untrue.

Just get writing and you’ll be amazed at all the incredible events you’ll capture because after all… life really is camouflaged.


To subscr*ibe to Writing Etc. and receive the fr*e e-book, “Power Queries,” surf here:

Forward Writing Etc. to all your friends! They’ll be glad you did.

You can easily manage your subscription to Writing Etc. by clicking the links at the end of this e-mail.


You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.”



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Published inWriting Etc.