I wish as a writer that I had the personality of a cat. By that I mean composed, indifferent even a bit self-assured. By that I mean when I’m facing rejections. I wish I didn’t want to crumble every time like “I” am being measured and found wanting. I looked through some of my stories this week and I began to think that maybe even I didn’t like them.
Have you ever felt that way as a writer?
I have days where I think I’m improving and others where I wonder if I’m making any progress at all toward my goal of actually being an author, whatever that means.
Anyway, to be a little more personal, I’d like to share my first publishing story. Every writer has one. Here’s mine.
If I was to say I was inspired to write by a suicide, it would sound not only a little weird but also disturbing. The suicide I’m referring to, however, was not someone I knew. In fact, she died the year I was born. It was the famous, or some would say infamous, author and poet, Sylvia Plath; writer of The Bell jar, The Colossus, and Ariel. She would later commit suicide. These works mentioned, though, did not inspire me to write.
My writing adventure started when I was a child but didn’t branch into an attempt at publishing until my early twenties. I submitted short stories a total of three times, got three rejections and quit; already feeling defeated.
Flash forward twenty years. I saw the movie, Sylvia, and became enamored by Sylvia Plath. I bought and read The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. After reading this lengthy work, I realized Sylvia had submitted thousands of pieces and received hundreds of rejections, while I had only tried three times.
I was determined to begin again. The road to success, I’m finding, is persistence. I submitted online to a Christian children’s magazine called “The Kids’ Ark”. The story was titled, “Snow Treasures”. I had submitted to them previously and was rejected so I had little hope for this one.
Imagine my surprise when I received a phone call one afternoon in early April from the publisher.
She said, “I read your story and loved it. We’re going to publish it in The Kids’ Ark magazine.”
I was astonished beyond words. I remember getting off the phone and rushing out the door. I had a cleaning job to go to.
I kept saying all the way, “I’m a published author!”
When I got to the home of the lady I cleaned for, I was so excited I knocked a picture off her wall. Luckily, no harm was done.
I received fifteen copies of the magazine my story was in, and a $100 check. I was able to publish again in The Kids’ Ark about six months later and to date; those two publications are the most I have been able to earn from single stories, although I have been published over thirty times now. Other stories have earned me anywhere from $5 to $50.
The day I received those magazines in the mail and my check, I believe, was one of the happiest days of my life. There is absolutely no thrill that compares with opening up a glossy magazine and turning to a story that is written by you, complete with a beautiful illustration by an artist, who was hired to draw a picture just for your story. That along with the joy of giving copies of the story to my friends and family was truly awesome. It was worth the rejections I had received in the past.
What I learned from this is that it takes a lot of rejections to make successful writing. At this time I have sent over 250 stories, and have received only 33 acceptances, but those 33 have given me an enormous sense of satisfaction.
I’m very glad I read Sylvia Plath’s journal. Her tragic life may have led her to suicide, but it led me to a life full of writing adventure.
I originally wrote this for a now defunct publication that shares first publishing stories. Like many of my writings, it never got published, so I’m publishing it myself. For Free. I’m now up to 39 publications. I’m thankful for every one of them no matter how small the reward was in publishing them.
Here are the stats of my publications for those interested.
Kids’ Ark- 2 stories
Stories for children magazine-2 stories
Shine brightly-2 stories
Bread for God’s Children- 1 story
Sparkle- 1 story
Kids’ magination-4 stories
Spaceports and Spider silk-2 stories
Guide- 1 story
Photo Flare-1 story
Penn Cove Literary arts-1 story
Alternate Hilarities-1 forthcoming
Guardian angel Kids-17 stories or articles and 1 poem
How many times do you think I’ve submitted things? 330 times. So, what’s your writing story? How many acceptances? How many times have you submitted your work?
Thought for the Day: Every story submitted is a success story because you tried.