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Back Roads For Writers

Story ID:7213
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:St. Louis IL USA
Person:Nancy Kopp
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Last fall, in early November, Ken and I went to a meeting in St. Louis. We left that Mississippi River city on a Sunday morning to drive up to my husband’s brother’s home in Macomb, IL. We started out on an interstate and after crossing the Mississippi River found ourselves on some back roads. Not four or six lane highways, but two lanes that wound through the Illinois flatlands, cornfields on both sides of the road. Cornstalks stood at attention like sentries on guard, brown, dry leaves encasing corn waiting to be harvested. The recent rains had kept the farmers out of the fields.

We wended our way through one small town after another, admiring the old homes and downtown areas. We pointed out interesting buildings to one another and commented that the trees here were more bare than in our home state of Kansas. The peace and quiet of these back roads and the communities that dotted them were soothing to the soul No fighting big city traffic here.

Writing can be like that, too. Writers start out hoping to hit the big-time. They want those Broadway lights in the writing world. Oh, to be published in The Atlantic or New York Times. Or maybe Good Housekeeping magazine or The New Yorker. But to get to those major highways, we must traverse the back roads first.

We need to start at the beginning. It might be a no-pay place where we are first published. And from there, we go on to low-pay. No-pay to low-pay! It’s the way we begin. We might get 1 cent a word, move on to 5 cents a word. The back roads of publishing move more slowly than we’d like, but they do move us along. And as we traverse farther and farther along in our writing careers, we see the interstate highways, the Autobahns of our field. How far we can go is an unknown, but as long as that big six lane highway is our goal, we’ll keep moving toward it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the back roads of publication. They’re quite fine, and they’re a means to those expressways of publishing we all aspire to.