As pleased as I am whenever I land a job for a national publication, I have to admit that writing locally has become a favorite pursuit. It’s a thrill to bump into readers at the grocery store, school or doctor’s office and receive firsthand, oftentimes spontaneous responses to a particular work.
“You made me cry again,” one reader recently told me at a tennis match. Knowing I’d touched her (it was a good kind of cry, from the way she said it) heartened me, and made me feel renewed by the full-circle effect writing can sometimes offer (often unexpectedly).
But it’s not always easy to land those local jobs. Even when you’re fairly established locally, a new publication can be something of a puzzle for a writer looking for new ways to share her work.
When I first picked up a copy of On the Minds of Moms, a local magazine geared toward parenting, about a year ago, I was immediately drawn to it. As a parenting columnist for North Dakota’s largest newspaper, it seemed a perfect fit for where I’m at in life and what I most enjoy writing about. I was eager to jump on board.
My first attempts at contact, however, ended in silence. And then one day, something my mother-in-law mentioned in an email nudged me to take the next step. It also reminded me that it’s true in the writing business as in any other: that sometimes it’s who you know. Or who you know who knows someone else who knows…
In the end, it was the name Kleinsasser that put me in a position to receive a response. My husband’s mother is a Kleinsasser, and as any football fan knows, that’s a pretty hefty name around these parts. Through my mother-in-law, Beverly Kleinsasser Salonen, I knew that one of the editors of the OMOM magazine also bears the name Kleinsasser. It seemed worth a try.
About a week after I sent off an email to Sheri Kleinsasser Stockmoe, explaining our possible connection, I was writing up my first piece for the magazine. She was wonderful to work with and seemed to appreciate what I was bringing to their most recent issue. And yes, she’s related to the Kleinsasser, Jimmy himself. They’re quite close in fact. They’re siblings.
But a name can only carry someone so far. Thankfully, Sheri had seen some of my other work and was familiar with my writing style. The name provided a spark, but it would have fizzled if I hadn’t been able to offer something more than that.
In the end, it was a nice pairing and I enjoyed every exchange back and forth with Sheri as I fleshed out my piece. I’m not concerned about the time it took to make that contact. This is all part of the writer’s journey and a lesson in gentle persistence, in not letting an initial “No” or plain quiet set you back. Editors are busy people, and starting up a magazine is undoubtedly a taxing effort.
You can read the results by clicking on the image, which will take you to the piece, “Readying the Soil for Another Season,” from the August/September issue of the magazine.
Before I sign off, I want to pay tribute to a dear man, my husband’s maternal grandfather, Grandpa John Kleinsasser. Though we never were able to establish whether he is related to the Jim Kleinsasser family, in the quest to discover whether he might be, a special friendship was established with Jim’s parents. Though John is no longer with us, his spirit is in all of the relationships that remain, including the one I’ve made with Sheri. So, Grandpa, in the end, I really have you to thank for landing me this job. From here to where you are, thanks.