I love hearing stories like the one shared by this week’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author Erik Ammon, where 12 x 12 not only helps a writer overcome fear and inertia but also helps improve his or her writing. It’s amazing what being part of a supportive community can do for your confidence and your craft. For someone who needed to overcome a great deal of doubt to get where he is today (at a minimum, a near shoo-in for winning this year’s challenge), Erik has shown exceptional bravery. It takes courage to share your work with others, but it takes even more courage to recognize that you can get better and put in the hard work to do just that. I hope you’re as inspired by Erik’s story as I am. Welcome, Erik!
I’ve always loved writing. For a while, in the early to mid 90’s, I wrote some poetry and started the next great epic fantasy novel. Then I stopped. I’m not sure why I did, I just did. Honestly, it may have been the thought of actually writing 150,000 to 200,000 words.
Fast forward twenty years…
I started writing again while recovering from hip and knee surgery in 2013. It gave me something to do since I couldn’t run. I started with a running novella about my life in running that, in an ultimate world, would have ended with me getting back to ultra-marathons, qualifying for and racing in The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Trail Run. But, life isn’t perfect, and neither is my knee. I’m hoping to still finish that story, but it’s going to be a long time.
With a pause in the running novella, I turned to writing short stories, which I put up on a writing site. Someone on the site liked my writing and asked me to write a children’s story with a moral for a possible site published anthology to benefit multiple sclerosis (if I remember correctly- the site is now defunct, so I can’t check in to be sure). The story was quickly reviewed by many and received several 5 star reviews. With this confidence, I hired an illustrator and self-published The Rabbit Who Wished He Could Fly on February 14th, 2014.
From there, I began to write more and more, but felt my writing was not quite good enough. I still wasn’t serious enough. I wasn’t a “real” writer. Funny thinking that. I always told runners they were real runners no matter how fast or slow they were, no matter how much or how little they ran. If you ran, you were a runner. But that thinking didn’t transfer to me, as a writer.
Enter 12×12. I found out about the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge in January. By now I knew I wanted to be a children’s book writer. The doubts came back to me: “You’re not a real writer” “You’re not good enough to sign-up.” I told those thoughts to go…somewhere and signed up.
During my time with 12×12, my writing has improved by an amazing amount. It started with breaking through my fear and posting in the critique section, First 250 Words. I put up what I thought was great work, and had it quickly, and expertly, dissected. I didn’t let that discourage me. This was why I joined 12×12. I needed these critiques and I used them to become a better writer. This past summer, I joined a critique group through 12×12 and even had another member ask to read a couple of my stories. Both the critique group and the individual have given great advice. I’ve seen my writing take another leap over the past two months with their advice. I feel like a few of my picture book manuscripts are now “finished.”
I have written eleven picture book manuscripts, have ideas for a few more, joined a critique group, sent manuscripts to publishers, and have been actively seeking an agent. I even started a writing blog! All things I never would have done without 12×12. If you’ve heard of 12×12 and are not sure if you should join next year, put those fears aside and sign-up!
My name is Erik Ammon. I’m a 2nd grade teacher in my 15th year of teaching. I’m also a running coach and a pre-published writer. I have a wonderful photographer wife, a trumpet playing 10 year old son and a 9 year old soccer star daughter. Oh, and a cat, Kona, that runs the house.Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Publishing, Self Publishing, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Critique Groups, Erik Ammon, Guest Blogging, Self Published, Tuesday 12 x 12, Works in Progress, Writer, Writing