On Tuesday, September 23 one of my biggest dreams came true. After writing fiction for fifteen years I received an email from an actual magazine editor telling me that he enjoyed a story I had submitted and that he wanted to publish it. He requested a bit of information, and after I sent it he promptly replied that my story would appear on its website on October 1. Barring a personal or natural disaster that would otherwise prevent him from publishing my piece, in six days (from this writing) I will join the ranks of published authors.
Now, before people start accusing me of bragging and trying to rub my “success” into the faces of those who haven’t gotten their first acceptance letter yet, I’d like to make some things clear. Indeed, an editor has accepted a story of mine for publication. His venue even pays for stories that have been accepted by them. However, my story is only two sentences long and Nanoism—the venue—pays $1.50 per story. I was so excited that I finally have a story about to be published that I donated the little commission back to the editor so that he could use it to fund another story. If I ever get published there again—and I have another micro-fiction story submitted already—I will probably do the same thing. The people behind Nanoism do what they do out of love and pay out of their own pockets because they believe in authors getting paid for the stuff they publish. In my case, the extreme rush of confidence and negation of self-doubt (not to mention my excitement and pride in my tiny story) was enough for me.
Another reason I am not trying to brag is because I am still a mere novice writer. I have been attempting every type of writing—in just about every single literary genre—since I was in fifth grade many years ago. I have never written on a regular basis, so even with all of those years behind me writing word after word I never got the practice or confidence I would have gotten had I written every single day for the past fourteen plus years. Indeed, I might be a novelist by now had I gotten that much practice under my belt. Instead, I am starting from scratch, attempting to write every day and reading more and more than I ever have before. For a novice, a two-sentence story is a pretty good endeavor. This is just the beginning for me. I have my eyes on a novel, but to get there I need to master story-telling. I am formulating a cumulative approach to learning to write fiction. I am starting out as small as I can (my latest story submission is a little bit longer than my untitled First Story) and getting longer each time. As the stories get longer I think my knowledge of story-telling will, too. I have jumped cold turkey into writing long stories many, many times and I have always given up because it seemed like too much of a challenge. If I take baby steps first I can get more comfortable taking longer and longer walks through fiction.
I have very low self esteem. It’s a problem I have been working on for a while now. The reason, in my opinion, that I have not been able to complete many of the stories and novels I have started in the past is because I worry too much. I worry that nobody is going to like what I write or that my novel will never be good enough. I judge the project before I even start writing. I get rejection letters for stories and I delete those stories. I never take into account why a story might get rejected, or what I could ever do to improve my writing. It is a mindset that dooms many aspiring writers into remaining aspiring writers forever. The small email I received from Ben, the editor of Nanoism, changed that mindset in me. I have gotten a couple of rejection emails from him in the past, but something inside of me told me to keep trying. I tried again, and succeeded. Now I know that I have it in me to be a writer and now I know that at least one person in the world likes something I have written. That’s a great feeling for someone who never thought anyone from outside their family would care about their writing, let alone a fiction editor.
For those of you out there who have not been published yet, and might feel like you don’t have it in you, let me tell you from personal experience that you do. We all have our stories to tell and sometimes we have to keep trying until we find a great way to tell them. As soon as you find the right way to tell your story then you will have no problem finding a publisher. Never give up on your dream. Readers are depending on you for literary sustenance. Indulge us.
(Ed. Note: Congratulations on your first sale!)