I hit a major milestone last week when my first published story went live. I’m still ridiculously excited about it—and I doubt that will change any time soon.
I don’t mind.
Before this point I tried to be careful to identify myself as an aspiring writer on this blog. It was a personal choice. I understand why some caution against the qualifier. If it stops someone from believing in their abilities, making excuses, not writing, whatever…then it isn’t useful.
I do actually believe that what makes a writer is writing. No lie.
I chose to make a distinction for myself as motivation and inspiration. Maybe it comes from my time in academia where hierarchies are alive and well. Maybe it’s just a quirk. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that, for me, the publication meant that I’d allow myself to say I’m a writer. It feels good. It feels real now.
I’ve changed the tagline and everything.
The story’s title is “Honeydew”. It’s a flash fiction piece and can be found in Issue 19 (November 2013) of Liquid Imagination, an online magazine.
It’s an interesting publication and I really like a lot of what they do (and not just because I have a story in it). I especially like how they work to incorporate different elements into the experience. Some stories have an audio version. Every story has artwork chosen for it. I love the image they chose for mine.
The first draft of the story was written for a LitReactor class I took last summer: The Horror, The Horror II: Writing Horror Fiction with Substance. It was a four week class, taught by four instructors: John Langan, Jeffrey Ford, Kaaron Warren, and Gemma Files. “Honeydew” was written for Gemma Files’ section of the course.
She challenged us to create a sense of wrongness or unreliability in a story. She wanted us to experiment with narrative conventions, and to think about atmosphere in addition to the other elements of story. It was a kickass week in class, for sure. I loved it.
My inspiration for my specific story came from a pretty obvious source. It was summer and I was having a snack: honeydew melon sprinkled with salt. I thought about my assignment while I ate. I got interested in the idea of trying to make something so simple into something disturbing.
I won’t get into all the boring particulars of process. It boils down to riffing and trying to find connections. I figured out my characters. I needed a plot in there too. Once I worked out that background I found it easier to select my pieces and develop them. It was a blast to write.
I turned it in and got some excellent feedback from both Gemma Files and my classmates. I left the course both energized and hopeful that my story might be publishable.
I sent it out a few times and it was rejected. I got a couple nice notes in the rejections and that made me feel better. I kept at it—and after a couple more rejections I got the acceptance. I had to read it at least twice to believe it.
The wait between acceptance and publication was tough. I know that it’s all part of the process, but… it’s hard. It probably always will be, but now I have a better idea about what goes on. I know that I can make it.
The best strategy is to keep writing. I kept busy, kept working on stories. I continued to submit other stories. Sometimes following obvious advice is the smartest thing you can do, right?
WINDING IT UP
So—now that I’ve got that first credit—I’m hoping for more. I’m still at it, still trying to work things out. I have a lot left to learn. I have a lot more to write.
I am going to have so much fun with this.
Thanks to everyone who has read the story. Thanks to those who said nice things, were supportive, and were generally awesome to me. I really appreciate it.
And, of course, thanks for reading this!