This newbie published her first short story. This wasn’t my first publication. In 1989, working as a transplant coordinator for the American Red Cross, I published a professional article “How Do I Ask?” in the journal Nursing ’89, on the serious and touchy topic of Tissue and organ donation. (You can read the full article in my pages section). I remember flipping through the pages of the January issue looking for my article and the excitement of seeing my words and name in print for the first time. The feeling was the same this week when Every Writer’s Resource featured my short story, THE RUSTED SWING SET.As a writer, I’ve gotten off to a late start. I wrote that first article some twenty-three years ago and I knew nothing about submitting articles or stories. I simply had a compelling story to tell and facts I wanted to impart to others. Naive in submission guidelines and formatting of manuscripts, without any hesitation or self-doubt about my abilities, I submitted the article. Perhaps, the reason they accepted my article was timing, the topic or my professional experience as an RN, in the field. I’d like to think my voice, as a writer, also came through, giving the topic a personal touch.Today, getting a magazine or journal to publish your work is harder. You can’t take a shot in the dark as I did in 1989. Following the guidelines, honing in on your genre and understanding what editors want and expect is part of the equation, along with hard work. I’ve learned a lot since 1989 about submitting and formatting manuscripts, but not enough by a long shot. My work may never reach the New York Times best seller list, but all I can do is try, improve were I can, and push the send button. Here’s a few things I’ve learned in the short time I’ve been writing.
- First, check your ego at the door or when you hit the send button. Understand the rights you’re giving up once your work leaves your hands. If you’re unsure, ask.
- Second, research the best place to submit. Zillions of opportunities for regular updates on contests and feeds from magazines seeking submissions are available. A great place to start would be the Top 50 Literary Magazines.
- Third, educate yourself. READ, READ, READ.
- Fourth, don’t take rejections personally. Learn from them.
- Fifth, keep on writing and submitting. Practice makes perfect.
Who knows what life holds in store for us. I won’t always get things right, I’m sure, but perhaps, I’ll live long enough to leave a legacy of published works to make my children and grandchildren proud. I hope so.
The article I wrote twenty-three years ago is still being used as a resource,incorporated into training manuals all the way to California, cited by authors, and in, at least, one legal case. Imagine my surprise.
This week my short story hit the Internet highway. Who is to say what the next twenty-three years will bring, where my stories will be or who they may touch.Writing is a journey for this newbie. My final legacy is in God’s hands, but it’s comforting to realize, after all this time, my words were not forgotten. They touched people’s lives and long after I’m gone they’ll be there for someone to read. I think my kids will be proud.
Keep writing. Our words are our legacy.