When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer.
I wanted to be a writer the way people want to be fire fighters, princesses, and the President – most of us trade our childhood dreams in for “reasonable, good” jobs. I work in higher education administration, a far cry from my initial dream of working as a writer/photographer/wildlife vet for National Geographic who travels the world for free.
But I have really good healthcare, so it’s hard to feel too bad about it.
I wrote poetry in high school. The angst-ridden kind that makes you cringe as an adult. I wrote for the newspaper in college, but wasn’t particularly good at it. I read (present tense) ferociously, and that’s probably what has driven the idea home; it would feel like returning the favor.
If I could consider myself a writer, then I am an untrained one. I’ve taken one creative writing class my entire life. I don’t read writing blogs, and I don’t do much research into techniques. I’m not sure that I have anything remotely resembling talent. I have ideas, sometimes I think they’re good, and sometimes I put them on paper. A lot of times they then sit forgetting in a desktop file. But one didn’t.
I wrote a flash fiction called “Bookends” over six months ago now. I was wrestling with grief, and the story was a result of trying to fit my emotions into a totally different situation. I liked the finished product and decided to submit it to an online literary magazine that I was subscribed to called 805lit. I expected for nothing to happen, but hoped that it did.
I was initially emailed and asked if they could print my submission. I said yes – and proceeded to shriek in excitement. They gave me a publication estimate for the spring. But then the spring issue came out without my story. So I waited what I felt like was an appropriate amount of time (two days, maybe) and inquired to the editors if they were planning on printing it. I assumed they had received better entries since mine, and had decided against publishing it.
Their response was that it had only been moved to fit in an issue with a more appropriate theme. A month or so later I received the edits to approve. I approved them. Then my bio had to be updated. Then I got the email with the summer issue. And then I saw my name under “Contents”.
When you are so afraid to put yourself out there, and then you finally do it, there’s this long feeling of tension – as if you’re waiting for someone to call you out on a lie you never told. Seeing my name as a contributing author, with my words printed on a page for thousands of people to read…it’s a hard feeling to describe. Almost like letting out a breath after holding it for twenty years.
I don’t care if I’m good, or if anyone else in the world likes it. I was published, and I am really proud of myself for that.
*but if you want to read it, you can do so here.