The letter offering money in exchange for publishing my short story arrived on April 1st 1996 (making me slightly suspicious) and I was cleaning my teeth as I opened it. Nearly choking on toothpaste, which involves a deeply unpleasant scorching of throat and nostrils, was a tiny price to pay for the attendant absolute euphoria.
I ran laps of the house, ‘Weeeh yeahhhhh!’ I screamed at bleary-eyed family members, ‘IsoldastoryIsoldastoryIsoldastory!’ (the post was delivered much earlier in those days), I rang my mum (who can be relied upon to be up early) and I fell over my dressing gown in my urgent need to switch on my computer. Then I wrote my acceptance letter, literally shaking with joy.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to replicate that joy, at various levels, on selling short stories, articles, serials, courses, novels and ‘how to’. I never get tired of it and would recommend it to anybody.
But the joy of acceptance is far from being the whole story of being a writer. There’s harder-to-live-with stuff, too:
- Work rejected – sometimes with a ‘what on Earth are you thinking of?’ overtone or ‘make it half as long and twice as funny and we’ll think about it’ editorial advice. I had pretty much assumed that once I had a story accepted, EVERY story would then be accepted! This was not the case. And still isn’t.
- Fees that don’t arrive or have to be chased.
Though I’m philosophical, take the rough with the smooth, accept the realities of life – I know that for some people, the non-joyful stuff comes as quite a shock. Which makes me think that it would make an ideal subject for an article for a writing magazine. The emphasis there is often on how to get published – but I think that what to expect from the experience and how to deal with it would be helpful, too.
So, can any of you help me with material? What came as a surprise to you, when you got something published or had success in a competition? Were those surprises good or bad?
Cover art …?
Or have the recent changes in the publishing world turned things upside down for you?
I’d love it if you’d let me know.