My first published story will be arriving online in May. The amazing folks at Foliate Oak Literary Magazine are publishing a flash piece of mine in a few weeks. It’s my first publication (did I mention that already?).
Okay, technically this isn’t my first publication. I’ve published a number of articles in library science journals (no doubt you’ve read them all – wait, I’m not even sure I’ve read them all). While I’m proud of that work, nothing compares to knowing that I strung together 986 words into a story that others found compelling enough to publish.
There’s a perennial discussion in writing circles: when do you get to call yourself a writer? I’ve been writing ever since childhood. I have a desk drawer full of the complete series of the graphic novel I wrote about my cat when I was ten. I have a pile of notebooks from high school that I can’t quite bear to recycle, even though the stories therein are all variations on a theme: boy notices something special about quiet girl, romance and adventure ensues.
I stopped writing during college, although I can’t tell you why. (Because I don’t know, not because of some widely deep and dark secret. Although I’m totally going to make up a secret now.) I started writing again in grad school and haven’t stopped. But the first time I called myself a writer – claimed it, open and honestly, without ducking my head and bashfully mumbling it – was when I sent in my bio to Foliate Oak. I am a writer.
Publishing doesn’t make you a writer. It’s about attitude and mindset and practice. Susan Henderson does a much better job than me summing it up :
“You’re a writer because you have every reason to stop (it takes too much time, pays too little, and the rejection hurts too terribly), but you can’t do it. It’s not that you love to write so much as you need to write. You’re a writer because you’re weird in the ways you want to continue being weird.”
(Read the full post here.)
Writing sucks – it does take too much time and pays too little and the rejection is terrible. Even if I never was published, I’d keep writing, though. It’s my weirdness – and I want to cultivate that wonderful weirdness. I was already a writer; that didn’t change when my story was accepted.
But was this publication gives me (besides an excellent excuse to buy a really expensive bottle of wine) is needed confirmation. I am on the right path. I am good at this. And I should keep on being weird.
*Once the story is published, look for a blog post outlining the story behind the story.