Writing for a Personal Essay Anthology

One of my personal essay pieces was just published by Mill Park Publishing  www.millparkpublishing.com in a book entitled Little White Dress. All of the personal essays/poems in this book are about wedding gowns. I have some knowledge on the subject since I was married more than forty years ago and will be married again (different groom) next year.

And I’ve had some experience in writing personal essays: I wrote sporadically for a  personal essay column in a local daily newspaper. I was also published in “The Ultimate Cat Lovers Book” – a story about how a kitten rescued me from grief. I enjoy taking personal experiences and giving them a universal theme. “All is grist for the mill” as a writer-friend once said.

So you think you could do the same thing? Add a credit to your writing credentials…

Start by keeping a journal. Every day write a short piece about something that happened to you that day – something funny or sad…something that made you angry… something that was important to you…something that seemed so important to others but not to you. In a few months you should have some of that “grist”.

Now for the “milling”.

How did I find the submission for the wedding dress anthology? After all, it’s a small press and I just don’t have the time to look on every small press website for a potential call for submissions. So I let my good friend, Google, do it for me. I set up a Google Search that runs a daily…uh…search for writer submissions. Everyday I get a list of who is looking for submissions. Ms Google found this one. It lead to a Facebook site and voila! the rest is history.

No…not quite.

You have to write the piece.

This one, I have to admit, I wrote and revised in one sitting. It’s short but I usually let things sit and then go back to them but Mill Park’s lovely editors wanted this to be an “in one day” book, so every submission had to be into the publisher within a 24 hour period. No time to worry over a word or a phrase. Just write the darn thing, read the darn thing out loud, fix what needs to be fixed and then….then voila! send it out.

Did I say “read the darn thing out loud”? Yes, by gosh, I did.

I read almost everything I write out loud. Boy! have I found some stinky phrasing doing that. I’ve also found that I use some words too many times.

Read your stuff out loud. To the cat, if he/she’s the only one around. At least you’ll hear it.

I made sure there were no spelling/typos/grammar bugs and then emailed my story for Little White Dress out to Mill Park Publishing.

The editor emailed me and said she laughed when she read it. That was what I was going for….at least this time.

We all have stories, some funny, some sad, some poetic. There’s an audience for them.

Trust me. After all, who would have thought that forty years after the first wedding dress, I’d be writing about the second one.


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