In my last blog post, I talked about how I don’t consider myself to be a real writer because I don’t make a living by writing creatively. In the weeks since I posted that, I’ve a string of very small successes and, while I still don’t feel like a writer, I’m feeling a little bit better about the quality of my writing.
In may spring of this year, I discovered Duotrope—an excellent source for writers—and decided to give some of those old, unpublished stories a new shot (or five) at publication. Almost immediately, my first story to be published (way back in 1995) was republished by an eZine called MicroHorro. Since that time, I have placed eleven other stories with online and print journals of various sizes and reputations. Most of these are extremely small and underfunded organizations, but one of them—The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts—actually paid me $50 for a story that will be published near the end of the year. That wasn’t the first time I’d been paid for my work, and it wasn’t the largest amount I’d been paid, but it was certainly one of the classiest groups to publish my work (just take a look at the cool stuff they sent along with my check).
Then today, Literary Juice, another really good online mag, published a piece that I wrote simply because their submission guidelines presented what sounded like a fun challenge. For this particular section of their site, they only publish stories of exactly 25 words. I wondered if I could tell a full story in such a limited space. Turns out, I can.
I keep telling myself that these acceptances are not a big deal because these are all very small publications with very limited readership and I’m not getting paid much, if anything. But then I look at the massive pile of rejection emails I’ve received from similar publishers. I’ve been turned down by zines that I’m pretty sure are read by no more than twenty. So, even with the small publishers, there’s apparently some pretty serious competition. And I’m not just fighting to be seen; I’m clearly competing with some really good writers. The magazines (both print and online) that are publishing my stories are all publications whose stories and poems I really enjoy reading. They might not have huge audiences yet, but I’m honored to be published by them because I am clearly in good (if obscure) company.