Tag Archives: starting out

The Beginning

Zielschmerz

n. the exhilarating dread of finally pursuing a lifelong dream, which requires you to put your true abilities out there to be tested on the open savannah, no longer protected inside the terrarium of hopes and delusions that you created in kindergarten and kept sealed as long as you could, only to break in case of emergency.

This invented word from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows perfectly captures where I am right now. I’ve been writing for over 10 years, but during that time I haven’t really done anything with my work besides endless revision and rewriting. Yesterday, though, I submitted a short story to an online magazine for the first time. It was a huge step for me, and in a way it feels great–I’m finally making an attempt to achieve my publishing dreams. But it’s also terrifying. What if I try and fail? What if I receive rejection after rejection and eventually have to accept that my dreams won’t ever be anything more, that I’m never going to attain the goal I’ve had in mind for so long? I wonder if I should have just stuck with dreaming, because then I’d never have to be disappointed.

But… I have to try. Because maybe I do have a chance; there are so many markets out there, way more than I ever knew until I started researching just recently. If I’m rejected by my first choice, I’ll try again, and again, with multiple different pieces. If nothing ever works out, then I’ll know–writing professionally isn’t for me. And in a way that would be a relief; giving up on being published would take a lot of the pressure off and allow me to just write for myself, which I would still enjoy. But if, at some point, something I write is accepted–well, right now I can only imagine the combination of satisfaction, excitement, and happiness that I’ll feel. I’ll look back at all those years of writing and marvel at what they’ve led to, hardly being able to believe that my dreams are actually coming true.

A few years ago, I did have several pieces published in my college’s literary magazine (I think it was four poems and two short stories over my four years at the school–funny, because I’ve barely written any poetry since then and tend to forget that I ever did). I haven’t been counting that as being published, though, because the school only had 1200 students total, and being co-editor of the magazine myself one year somehow made it seem less legit (I mean, I had to use Microsoft Publisher to put the thing together because my school couldn’t afford a real design program)–although I did not use my power to get my own work published! But having had pieces published there does give me hope; it happened once, it can happen again. And even if it never does… Well, a tiny college magazine is something, right?

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