It’s been over fifteen years since my first short story was published in The Amethyst Review, a small literary magazine that has since ceased publication. Although I was thrilled to be finally seeing my work in print I didn’t share my accomplishment with very many people—mainly my family and a few close friends but that was about it. Yes, I was published but I sure didn’t feel like a writer. What if this was my one and only story? We are all supposed to have one story in us—right? Not only that, I still had a great deal to learn about writing and I knew it.
All I had in the beginning was an eagerness to communicate, to put words down on paper, hopefully words that would flow smoothly and eloquently and leave me with a sense of accomplishment. In the early years I was floundering about like so many would-be writers do, trying to find out who I really was on the page and searching for that voice that was uniquely mine. It was a slow process and it was a year or two later until I had another story accepted. But I hung in there either out of pure determination or sheer stubbornness. I was going to figure this out one way or another and, slowly but surely, more and more literary magazines began publishing my work. Some places were able to pay while others were not but I knew that with each publication I was growing as a writer. Did I receive many rejection slips along the way? You bet! And I came to see those rejections slips as most valuable because the closer I got to having my work accepted I went from receiving form rejection slips to ones with wonderful bits of advice and encouragement.
So when I received a phone call from the editor of Nimbus Publishing in April 2008 telling me how much she liked “Bitter, Sweet” I politely thanked her for all the wonderful things she was saying. Play it cool, I silently told myself, what if she’s calling to say, “I really like your story but unfortunately…….” So, I played it cool up until the point where she told me they wanted to publish it, after that I’m not quite sure. I laughed a lot, my legs felt like rubber and my mind was going off in a hundred different directions. She asked me a few questions about the setting and I’m sure I blurted out some sort of answer. Hopefully I made sense. I’m pretty sure I made sense. Oh well, if I didn’t make sense it hardly matters now.
The next few days I literally had my head in the clouds and believe me it took a while to come back down to earth. I can’t compare the difference between having a first short story accepted for publication to having a first novel because there really is no comparison. The short story came at the beginning of my career and served as encouragement but as valuable as that encouragement was it still wasn’t where I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong it was pretty exciting to think that someone wanted to publish something I had written but the novel was my goal from the very beginning. It was where I someday wanted to be. Now that someday is here and it feels great!!!!!!