June 18, 2013

The Truth About Flying Saucers

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

This ad, taken from a 1950's magazine, caught my eye this week. Actually, not the one about flying saucers, although that's a curiosity in itself. A mere $2 sounds like a bargain to actually learn the truth about UFOs. But apparently no one ever sent their $2 in, because we still don't know.

Below that, however, is an ad which a lot of folks did respond to. Don't strain your eyes; here's what it says:

Writing short stories, articles on business, current events, hobbies, human interest stories, travel, sports, local, church and club activities, etc., will enable you to earn extra money. In your own home, on your own time, the New York Copy Desk Method teaches you how to write the way newspaper men learn by writing. Our unique "Writing Aptitude Test" tells whether you possess the fundamental qualities essential to successful writing. You'll enjoy this test. Write for it, without cost or obligation.
If you were the Newspaper Institute of America, and your job was to assess the aptitude of would-be writers, what would you look for?  Grammatical errors, poor punctuation, and the general inability to craft a decent sentence might certainly eliminate some candidates (unless, of course, you're trying to sell them your correspondence course in writing).  Beyond the obvious, however, how would you determine that someone has the potential to be a great writer?

We might do well do read our own writing through the eyes of an objective assessor, looking for the very traits that say, "This writer has what it takes."

One organization who knows a great author when they see one is The Georgia Writers Association, which recognizes outstanding writing in their annual awards ceremony.  This past weekend, the Georgia Author of the Year Award for First Novel went to Kimberly Brock for The River Witch. We're prouder than ever that Kimberly graced the July 2012 issue of Southern Writers, and can also be heard on the current Southern Writers Radio Show, via this link. Congratulations, Kimberly!

Reviewing the list of past GAYA winners, we find additional familiar names, including Joshilyn Jackson, Pamela Bauer Mueller, and Ann Hite, who appears in our upcoming July issue. We like to think we know how to pick 'em too.

All of these fine authors recognized at some point that they had an aptitude for writing.  More importantly, they took that potential and saw it through to the finish line, and beyond.  Whatever stage we happen to be at in our writing career, there's the next highest level waiting to be achieved, whether it's the next chapter, or the next awards ceremony.

As 21st century writers, we have more opportunity for success than any generation of writers before us.  When we recognize our potential, the sky's the limit.  The truth is, we may not believe in flying saucers, but we can always believe in ourselves.

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