When people ask me how I managed to break into publishing, I tell them, “With the help of great mentors.” And there was never a truer statement. I was one of those weird kids who knew by the ripe old age of nine that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My mother was a writer, and I wanted to be just like her.
My mother was the greatest influence in my writing. She read everything I wrote, no matter how bad it was, and encouraged me with constructive criticism. She never told me that everything I wrote was wonderful, because that would have been a lie. She belonged to a local writer’s group and took me along with her when I reached high school age and the writing bug had not gone away. She took me to writing conferences where I learned more from the experiences of other writers than I could have from any classroom. My mother scrimped, saved, and bought me my very first electronic typewriter when I graduated from high school.
My mother’s best friend was also influential in my writing success. She was the head of the English department at a prominent university. When she heard I was going to attend college for writing, she bought me a dictionary. Probably not a gift every high school senior looks forward to at graduation, but I loved it and still have it today. This woman was such a character; the epitome of an absent-minded professor. I knew that others would enjoy reading my stories if I could just create characters like her! She was my inspiration that real life really was better than fiction and much of my writing includes vignettes of real life. They make my stories feel real to the reader, allowing them to relate.
The first article I had published in a “real” publication was an article about losing my mother. I have always felt that was ironic. She was such a big part of the beginnings of my writing career, and she did not get to see what I gained from all her efforts and encouragement. I wrote from my experiences. I wrote from my heart. I figured I wasn’t the first person to go through similar circumstances – losing a mother – and that others could benefit from what I had to say. I went into the depths of my soul and shared my story with others.
That was just my first real life article. Many more have followed.
Now, after having been writing for more than twenty years, I am able to pass along the knowledge I’ve gleaned from years of work. When someone asked me to teach a writing class at a local homeschool co-op, I kind of went into the task grudgingly. However, I now teach three classes because I love it so much. I love seeing the faces of young people when they have succeeded in writing. I love helping young people see that they can complete an entire novel or get a story they wrote published. I love that I am helping to shape young writing minds and help them get started on their own paths to writing success. It thrills me, and I act like a fool, each week when one of my students reports they received an acceptance letter from a magazine.
I love that I can pass it on and that there will be writers that come after me who are willing to share their lives and their stories with others.
About the Author:
Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading. You can visit her on her blog at ruths-real-life (dot)blogspot.com or her website at ruthoneil (dot)weebly.com