I should have written this post long ago, but I've been struggling to convince myself that the email acceptance I received and the contract I signed were actually real. After so many years--my last story was published in 2004--I was beginning to think it was a fluke. I hadn't written my proverbial million words of crap yet. Shouldn't have happened.
Yet, from all the conventions I've attended, and the successful authors I have heard speak, they all say the same thing. The people who find success are the people who don't give up. No matter how bleak it looks. No matter how tall the stack of rejection letters--even if you could heat your house in January with a ritual burning--each of those rejections is a step towards publication. Every story you write teaches you something new. No matter how often the error side of the trial and error cycle looms its ugly head, if you keep writing, and keep learning more about the craft, you're getting better.
I lost a lot of time over the past eight years. Some of that was through divorce and the emotional upheaval that goes with it. Some of it was from choosing to spend my time in unproductive (if enjoyable) pursuits--hello, World of Warcraft! Some of it was plain, downright fear of failure.
I wonder where I would be now if I had made different choices?
The truth is, I'll never know. In the meantime, I am happy to announce my first sale to a pro-paying market. My short story, The Memory of Huckleberries, will be the cover story in the September issue of Penumbra ezine.
I am only just now letting it sink in that, yes, this is real, and yes, I can succeed if I keep working and don't give up. We never know how long the journey will be, but if you're passionate, the journey is worth the effort. Enjoy the process, have fun, and (cliche alert!) keep your eyes on the prize.