My first published short story, “The Well”, appears in the April 2016 issue of Vitality. It’s super exciting having some of my fiction published! I wrote this story last year, right around the time that I wrote my first post on this blog, and it was actually Vitality itself that inspired me–discovering a magazine dedicated to non-tragic stories about queer characters made me want to write one of my own. “The Well” features an all-female community and an aro-ace protagonist. In most of my stories with ace protagonists, the character’s asexuality comes into the story in some way (whether they’re discovering it, coming to terms with it, or coming out to someone else), but in this one, it’s just a brief aside and not where the focus lies.
I had fun writing this story, and while, sadly, this is Vitality‘s last issue, I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it!
Last year, as I wrote about in my last (which was also my first) post, I started actually submitting some of my short stories to various online magazines. I was enthusiastic and excited; I dove in, devoting hours to researching different markets, sorting and ranking them, reading their content to figure out which ones were a good fit for my work. Eventually I submitted a few things, knowing not to have any expectations–everyone gets rejections at first, right? And I did get rejections, and that was okay; I just did a little more research, and sent my stories out again.
But somewhere along the way, in the middle of these efforts, I lost all my confidence in my writing. I saw other writers, younger than me, who already had dozens of publication credits. I saw other writers talking about how easy writing was for them, while I struggled to get anything polished enough to submit. I read the work of other writers and realized it was better than mine could ever be. Suddenly, trying to get published seemed incredibly arrogant. I got deeply discouraged, and I gave up–not just on submitting pieces, but on writing, too.
But last month, I sent off one of my few completed stories again, prompted by an upcoming submissions deadline for a magazine I enjoy. Having lost my hope and aspirations, I mostly forgot about it after that. But then, last week, I got an email from the magazine. I read the first line and thought it was another rejection–but it wasn’t.
You shouldn’t need external validation to keep doing something you love. I also know that being officially published doesn’t mean you’re good, and not getting published doesn’t mean you’re not. But I think, where I’m at right now, I did need that validation. I needed something to tell me it was worth it to keep going, that I shouldn’t just give up. That all the time and effort I’ve spent messing with words hasn’t been wasted. Having one short story accepted: it’s not really that big a deal. But to me, right now, it is.