I don’t remember the exact moment I started taking the idea of publication seriously. Definitely sometime after my son was born, maybe after my daughter was born. Sometime during those long days of cuddling and writing, I decided I was going to do this. Nothing to lose, right?
I finished my first manuscript, started in on my second. Finished that. Started a third. Around the same time, I began writing short stories. Not that short stories are easier to publish than a book, but the publication turnaround time is shorter, they are easier to workshop, and if they don’t find a professional home, I can always host them here.
Fall of 2018, I had my first big break. At the time, I didn’t realize it was a big break. I thought it was a tiny step. While looking for beta readers for my MG, A Boy Made of Sand, I was connected with Bex, who was kind enough to give me feedback on my book. After reading it, she invited me to join her friends on a discord server called the Inkubator.
From my first dip into that community, I finally felt like the road to publication was possible. Among all of the banter and chat, there were also helpful critiques and discussions about writing craft. Eventually, there was help on where to submit short stories, which were a new medium for me.
During my first weeks there, many of the members completed flash stories for a writing exercise based on a photo prompt. When I first saw that photo, I thought I would have nothing to say about it. I had been looking forward to jumping into the community, but I was disappointed by the photo. It wasn’t my style.
But I wasn’t about to miss out on the first exercise. I wanted to keep up with the other writers in the group and show I belonged. I ended up writing a flash fiction that I was rather happy with.
After the first draft, one of the other group members helped me workshop the piece and drove me to a deeper level of writing than I had reached before.
It was just an exercise, but I sent it out to a few magazines. It was the first piece of mine that reached a winnowing in a professional publication. I was ecstatic.
I took the feedback from that publication (Flash Fiction Online) which was pure gold, and applied it to my story.
Last week all these little steps resulted in the moment I had been waiting for. My first professional creative writing publication.
The story, Rest Stop, is now available online and in story dispensers via Short Edition.
It feels amazing to have a professional-level publication under my belt. But what really amazes me are all the little steps along the way. I never realized these steps would lead me to my goal. I was unsure of my path. But looking back, it seems obvious.
Join a community. Keep writing. Keep subbing. It’s those tiny steps.