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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Life of a Curling Writer: Not always easy to convince editors that curling is a story worth telling

Action at the Fergus Curling Club (Photo Jean Mills)

I'm a curler, yes, but I'm also a writer, and writing about something you love has got to be the best way to spend your time. (Getting paid for it is nice, too, which happens sometimes...)

One story I really want to write about is curling families - you know, all those grassroots and elite curlers who are out there on the ice with various combinations of family members. I pitched this story to Reader's Digest a year ago and after some initial excitement (why wouldn't they be excited; it's a great story!) they turned it down. I had Russ Howard on board to talk about his own family's experiences, and Joan McCusker was lined up, too. The story died. Sometimes I hate freelancing.

But, where there's a will...

As the editor of my local freelance writer's blog (the Guelph Chapter of the Professional Writers Association of Canada), I'm in charge of posting content. So when Around the House, the blog I write for the Canadian Curling Association, went live today, I quickly posted a blurb (which I've included below for anyone interested in the perils of the writing life) about my rejected-story experience. My writing friends got to read about the writing side of the story, and at the CCA website, my curling community gets to read about why curling really is an "all in the family" sport.

Win, win.

Curling and writing: I could do this for a living....


Some of my Guelph PWAC colleagues heard my sad story last year of a pitch to Reader's Digest that started out full of promise and went suddenly to the "Sorry, not interested" file - after I had put two increasingly detailed proposals together, at RD's request. That's a lot of work - unpaid, of course.

My story about curling being a family affair originally caught the attention of RD editors, especially when I secured the support of Olympic gold medallists Russ Howard and Joan McCusker. Both Russ and Joan have great stories which exemplify curling's unique qualities as a family-oriented sport. RD was interested. "Very" interested, in fact. Emails were flying between me and my sources, me and the RD editors. Proposals, interviews, encouragement and excitement from all parties.

And then, out of the blue, the phrase that freelance writers never want to hear: "No thanks." Darn. 

Glenn Howard in action (Photo Jean Mills)
But all was not lost. A recent interview with a curler who is going to a national championship with his dad on the team got me thinking. I resurrected the "all in the family" idea and blogged about it for my weekly gig with the Canadian Curling Association. It's not quite the story I set out to write for RD, but it sure captures the essence of it. Curling really is a family affair.  You can read it (and see a photo of two generations of smiling Howards) here:

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