Okay, I admit it. I don’t consider myself worthy of the title “writer”. The concept makes me just a bit uncomfortable and I’ll tell you why.
For one thing, REAL writers know they’re destined to write, almost from birth. REAL writers devour volumes of Bronte, Hugo and Dickens while all of the other kids in the neighborhood are riding around on their bicycles — getting into trouble.
REAL writers work and study for YEARS before their words get anywhere NEAR a printing press. REAL writers also have several decades-worth of rejection letters in their files and engage in lively debates over things like “voice” and “timbre”. Like the Great Masters, REAL writers must SUFFER…
And not one of those things is even remotely related to how I came to write for a living.
You see, a few years ago, I sent a short piece to a book publisher who was gathering stories for an anthology and forgot all about it until one day when I was stunned to find a check in my mailbox. I was pushing 50 at the time and, suddenly, I had a whole new career!
I began collecting a list of all of the publications I thought might be even remotely interested in the subjects I write about, polished up some stories and submitted them.
Within those first few months, I sold three more short stories.
Then, I sent a short piece about wildlife to a well-respected science and nature publication with little hope that I’d hear anything further about it.
I was surprised when the editor sent back an email that read, “We don’t normally use this kind of thing but, for some reason, I like what you have here. Give me a couple of weeks to mull over how we could make it work and I’ll get back to you.”
Two months later, I had another check in my hand and, in the following three months, I sold three more pieces to different publishers.
I think there’s a valuable lesson here for all writers: If a piece is well-written and the editor likes it, s/he will create a place for it in their publication. (In order for that to be possible, however, you must have submitted your work in the first place!)
Now, less than two years later, as I sift through an ever-growing collection of books, magazines and periodicals all containing my byline, one of my mother’s “Ozarkian” phrases keeps turning over in my mind: Who woulda thunk it?
Me, a writer? Former perpetual junior college student and single working mom, thrice divorced, aging hippy, 53 year-old, me? And, just think, I didn’t even start out with writing as a career goal. Can you imagine what someone with childhood dreams and a lifetime of interest in writing might accomplish?
Jean writes from home in her native Northern California in the company of her husband and black kitty-amigo, Plunkett. Her work has appeared in such widely diverse publications as the Haunted Encounters series (Atriad Press), California Wild, Front Porch and, online, at ALongStoryShort.netALongStoryShort.net (among others). See her complete credits at http://home.comcast.net/~lilfishjean/resume.html.