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Writing From Personal Experiences
by Annie Laura Smith
Have you ever considered writing about some of your personal experiences
for publication? Our family has been a continuous and inspirational source
of topics for my freelance writing. My first personal experience piece
was written for an assignment in a course on writing for religious publications.
"The Special Names of Our Twins", a humorous article on their
nicknames, appeared in Living with Preschoolers and was my first
freelance publication. Later, as the children grew older, I realized the
importance of spending more time with them. "Love Is Spelled T-I-M-E"
was published in Living with Children. I noticed the "generation
gap" when they were teenagers and wrote an article comparing the
values of my 1950's generation to the values of the 1980's. Living
with Teenagers published "A Message for the 1980's from the
Class of 1952."
Even the family cat and our friends' dog had their day in the press.
Animal Review published a Haiku about our cat "Fluffy",
and Look and Listen published a story for preschoolers about
our friends' dog "Scruffy".
My love for the seashore resulted in six published poems: "Serenity
of the Sea" in Words of Praise; "Sea Oats" in
Florida Living; “The Drama of the Ocean”” in
the American Poetry Anthology; and “Serenity of the Sea”
in Words of Praise. "Sea Oats" was subsequently reprinted
in Florida Trail Panhandlers Chapter News and on the cover of
Purpose. The Second Thoughts Missionary Oblates Radio Ministry purchased
a narrative form of the thoughts in the poem. (Numerous publications will
accept reprints of first person articles.)
“Images of the Seashore”, a lyrical essay on the beauty of
the seashore, appeared in Hometown Press. An interest in sailing
provided background for a children’s story, “Jenny’s
Sailing Trip”, published in Look and Listen.
My experiences of growing up in Florida and witnessing hurricanes provided
the background information for a children’s cover story, “Hurricane”,
published in R-A-D-A-R. These experiences also led to two nonfiction
pieces on “How Hurricanes Get Their Names”. One article appeared
in Kids Copy and the second was published in Nature Friend
A trip to a writers’ conference in Bermuda led to an article about
the Sea Venture, Sir George Somers’ British flagship that foundered
in 1609 on the barrier reefs off Bermuda, that appeared in Challenge.
Our family's reactions to life's events have been published in the form
of devotionals in The Word in Season and "What Child Is
This?" 1993 Advent Devotional Guide for the First Baptist
Church, Huntsville, Alabama.
My remembrances of growing up in a small town in Central Florida were
revealed in two articles: "An Ocala Front Porch" and "Growing
Up in Ocala and Silver Springs." Both of these nostalgic articles
appeared in Ocala Today.
I expressed the values that my grandmother taught me in our small Southern
town in an article, “From the Porch Swing”, that appeared
in The Good Old Days. Another piece suggested how important it
is for each one of us to record the history and culture of our respective
generations as a legacy for our families. Ozarks Senior Living Newspaper
published this remembrance, “Capturing Our Past”.
It has not been necessary for me to travel to exotic locations or do
extensive research for these articles. Just by observing the family's
activities and reactions to life's events and by noting my own feelings,
I have had a variety of writing topics. An ad for cotton on television
reminds us of the "fabric of our lives". The daily experiences
of our lives, the real fabric of our lives, provide more possible
topics than we can perhaps ever write about.
In her book Writing the Creative Article Today, Marjorie Holmes,
a prolific writer of personal experience articles, notes, "Magazines
are publishing more true first-person stories than ever before."
She advises that the experiences do not have to be "epic or unique".
It the universality of an experience that another person can identify
with that sparks reader interest.
Markets include: child care and parental guidance magazines; general
interest publications; fraternal journals; special interests such as health
and fitness, history, photography, psychology, and self-improvement; regional,
religious, retirement, travel, and women's topics; and newspaper supplements
and op-ed pages.
You can find those personal article ideas for your own freelance writing
by observing more closely the activities and reactions to life's events
of your family and friends, and through keeping a journal of your own
feelings. And don't forget to keep an eye on the cat (or dog) too!
© Copyright 2006, Annie Laura Smith
Laura Smith has approximately160 publications. She also published a World
War II historical trilogy (The Legacy of Bletchley Park, Will Paris
Burn? and Saving da Vinci) with OnStage
Publishing. A contemporary YA novel, Whispers in the Wind, was
published in 2006 by Booklocker.com, Inc.
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