The Writer’s Roller Coaster
I’ve ridden the writer’s roller coaster over the past couple of weeks.
I was thrilled this week that my flash fiction “Breakage” was published in The Quotable literary magazine.
The week before I learned that another story I had entered in the Glimmer Train contest for new writers was not selected, either as a contest winner or for future publication.
As excited as I was about the first of these, I really wasn’t disappointed by the second.
Glimmer Train is my favorite literary magazine. Its quality is impeccable, and I’m always amazed at how good the writers featured in it are. So submitting my story here was chasing a dream, and I knew that. Even before I learned the results of the contest, I had followed the advice of two of my writing teachers and submitted the story to a second market, and I have a third and fourth in mind.
This, for me, is a huge step forward in my confidence.
I also thought about all the other writers who submitted—and there must have been thousands of entries. And how, in spite of all the likely disappointment, all of the effort to write and perfect a story for submission is not wasted.
I realize how lucky I am to be able to write at all, how lucky all of us who have some amount of talent—small or great—are to be able to create worlds out of words, to bring people to life, to get inside their heads and know them in ways we can’t know the real people in our lives.
I’ve been in love with writing since I was a child. All through high school it was what I wanted to be. But when I stepped into real life, I lost my confidence in my writing ability and set it aside. I didn’t pick it up again until the past decade or so, when I rediscovered my love for it.
I took several writing courses and made tentative steps forward. Yet I thought actual submission to actual publications was a reach for the sky. But I did impulsively enter a reader’s contest in Rosebud magazine, for which I wrote a poem using a line supplied by the editors. It was printed in the magazine: my first publication.
After that I took a leap and submitted a story I liked. When it was rejected, I was discouraged. I never tried to submit it anywhere else.
But I did keep trying. I kept taking courses. I finished a NaMoWriMo novel (which I am still trying to revise). And gradually I began to feel like a writer.
This week I achieved my third publication. And now I feel that I’ve earned a balanced perspective. I know that at my age, and without an MFA, I won’t be having a “career” as a writer. And that’s fine. What I do hope to do is keep on writing and learning, keep on trying to get better. If small publications do come along, I’ll be happy and grateful, but I won’t count on anything. And my overarching goal (far off as it may be) is to finish my novel. After that…don’t know. I may try for real publication or consider self-publication. In any event, I’ll be proud to have done it.
And I think the doing it is what really counts.
Image from MorgueFile