So, I have this friend, Joanna Fletcher. She’s a cool lady, and she recently got published for the first time. I asked her to stop by and talk just a little bit about what it was like. And, well, she obliged! Without further ado, here’s Joanna!
Ever get an email that completely tilted your world on a new axis? You’re moving through your day, staying on the path you’ve expected. File this, deal with that, et cetera. Then comes that little ping and your reality suddenly shifts.
It had been months. Honestly, I’d forgotten about my short story that I’d submitted (although it seems ridiculous that I could forget). It was the only written piece I had out in the world, that little piece of my heart off to the scary world of publication. I should have been checking on it, worrying about it. That’s what writers do, right? But when you’re finishing a master’s degree, teaching full-time, momming full-time, and taking care of a million other adulting things, the brain has to prioritize what it’s going to focus on. Worrying about my little story that had already been rejected wasn’t high on the priority list.
When I got the email saying that my story had been accepted to a small online magazine, it took a few seconds to register. I read the email once, twice, thrice. Then I made a screech that probably belonged to some prehistoric bird and started frantically texting everyone I knew would care. I got mixed reactions. To be fair, some of the people I shared my good news with didn’t understand how much this meant to me. Since I was a child, I wanted to be a published author. I got an article published in my college newspaper, but I didn’t count that since the editor was a friend. No, I wanted someone who’d never met me to think my stories were good enough to publish. And now I had that moment! Here I go, on my way to my dream of being a full-time writer! What a rush! What a thrill!
What a crash after the adrenaline wore off.
Because now everyone’s asking, “What will you do next? Is there more to the story?” And I’m paralyzed. It sounds ridiculous, I know. One short story published, and I’m…scared?
But it’s true. Because when you get a string of no’s, you get used to it. You expect it. And sometimes you even smile and move on quickly because it’s what you expected anyway.
Sometimes a yes is a plot twist that leaves the writer staggering.
The next submission I’m tackling is for a more well-known publication. They sell books on Amazon and everything. The topic is one I’ve written about hundreds of times. This should be cake! But I have never wrestled so hard with writing a piece of fiction.
So what’s next? It’s simple. Some people need to listen to music. Others have a craving to run (why that is, I’ll never understand). I need to write. Franz Kafka said, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” I can always tell when it’s been a while since I’ve written for pleasure; I get cranky and withdraw even farther from the world. I have to write to feel alive and whole.
I’ll find other places to submit my newest stories. I’ll tentatively create worlds and characters. I’ll fall in love with some and fall in hate with others. I’ll twist my fingers through the open air, searching through my mental files to find just the right word. I will keep writing.