May 15th, 2019 11:43 AM
Yesterday, I did something wildly optimistic. I should preface this story by saying that I do believe that I am an optimistic person in general. I’m no Pollyanna, mind you, but I choose to look for the upside in the day to day challenges and the occasional larger grenades life throws at me.
There is one area of my life that I am not an optimist, however. Trying to launch a career in writing. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Ever since I was little, and learned to fall in love with books, I knew I wanted to be the person who wrote a book someone else would fall in love with.
I grew up in a practical middle-class family with a mother who warned me against pursuing a career that would be difficult to succeed in. These are a few of the statements she’d often make: “Very few make it.” “It’s a long-shot.” “Pursue it as a hobby but go into something that will let you take care of yourself if you need to.”
This was actually very good advice. All of it was true, including needing to support myself. When I went to college, I took as many writing courses as I could cram into my English requirements, but my major was Communications. I did pair it with an English minor with a writing emphasis, instead of Marketing like my advisor suggested.
I didn’t end up going into Communications but I did find a career I enjoyed, was well-suited for and allowed me to take care of myself and my son when I needed to. Writing took a backseat to life. I still did it, but only for my own consumption. I never submitted my work anywhere to be published.
A year ago, I decided to get serious about finishing the novel I started in 2001. I entered into one on one coaching with a published author, Kathie Giorgio. I joined a class with her small company, AllWriters’ Workshop &Workplace. I wrote, I revised, I critiqued. I made writing a priority for the first time in my life and I loved it.
I also learned that it’s very helpful to have short works – poetry or short stories – published before trying to publish a novel. I struggled with this for close to nine months. I am not a short story writer. I’ve tried, but they end up too big. I have works-in-progress that started out as short stories and are now sixty pages into being a novel.
I have written poetry, but only for myself. I suspect it’s terrible since I don’t know much about how to write poetry. I do have this blog, where I basically write short memoirs, but they’re written informally and again, for myself, so I wasn’t optimistic that they’d be a candidate for publication anywhere.
After almost a year in coaching, my book is now completed. I’m finishing up my last few revisions and I will be ready to start the process of trying to get it published within a few weeks. The pressure to get something small published, so I have some publication credit that’s recent, was mounting. (I have publication credits but they are from twenty-five years ago when I was doing some freelance writing for magazines and such.)
Two weeks ago, I found an online site which was looking for stories about moms to be submitted for their May issue. I thought about my blog and when I wrote about my mom going into hospice care two years ago. I combined a couple of blog entries from that time, made a few changes and sent it off as a short memoir submission. Normally, I would have my writing coach review it and give feedback before I’d submit anything, but I didn’t have time as the deadline to submit was just a few days away.
The day the site was going to publish the stories came and went and I didn’t hear anything from them. I’d pretty much forgotten about it until I received an email yesterday telling me my story was published on their site. What?!
I immediately went to look and there it was, my words with a photo they’d chosen to complement the story. It’s on a site called The Story Pub. I actually published something. And not a newspaper article, but something creative that was born out of my experience, not recounting someone else’s. This is a first for me.
It. Was. So. Cool.
When I told my husband about it, he asked me if I got paid for it. That wasn’t so cool at all. That’s a blog topic for another day, though.
Even though I didn’t make money for getting my story published, it feels pretty great to think that someone else liked something I wrote enough to put it on their literary website. So what’s the wildly optimistic thing I did yesterday? It’s a little thing, something I wouldn’t normally think twice about, but yesterday, it was meaningful to me. I created a new folder in my outlook inbox entitled, Acceptance letters.
I’m hoping and anticipating that there will be more.