Well, folks, I have been published. I have been pushing harder and harder over the Pandemic, trying to veeeery slowly re-warm up my writing career so that when I am done homeschooling (May of 2022) I will have a place to jump from. I am still extremely far from writing full-time but I am so close to that point that I can taste it. It appears, now, that my grand plan is working even though I would like to have done more (always more). Homeschooling is, as it were, time-consuming, as is raising children and managing a home, somehow especially in The Pandemic. This past year I did my “usual” writing residency in the fall but I also won a fellowship to the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing (last June) and, lo and behold, had a short story published. Which is what this post is about. The idea is to keep building on these things until publishing is—yes, still hard work—but a thing of normalcy.
I have been published before, but it was always nonfiction (a smattering of articles and editorials) and poetry in college or, as you might know, the two novels I published with the indie press my aunt and I managed for a few years before homeschool came knocking (incessantly, it would not take no for an answer). I only started writing short stories in the seven-year between-time that I have been homeschooling. So, it is with some belated fanfare (this is all so nerve-wracking) that I announce to you that you can find my flash fiction piece at Every Day Fiction, an online, Canadian literary magazine. Scroll ye down to December 16th or click directly to it HERE. (It’s flash fiction–under 1000 words–so it’ll take like a minute.)
As for being published traditionally and for fiction—a moment I have waited my whole life for—the day was spent with mixed emotions. I was prepared for the inevitable: that it would not be a day when trumpets showed up blaring on my front lawn or I was given the keys to the kingdom or a million dollars or an Oprah interview. It wasn’t a novel, anyhow, which is what I hope to be building up to with my short stories (even though I do like writing short stories for what they are, too). So I wasn’t exactly disappointed that it was a day just like any other. My friends, the ones I just so happened to see that day, did toast me and assure me it was a REALLY BIG DEAL. My mixed emotions came from some other things, though: having been scared for weeks that they would decide not to run the piece after all; relief that they had; excitement that I had been published; worry that I had edited the life (and the me) out of the story; concern that it was not my best (or maybe I mean most representative) work; guilt that I swore three times and referenced inappropriate things (I have children and students, after all); fear that my family would read themselves into the story (specifically my dad, because it is about a girl and her mechanic father). I sent an email to my family announcing the publication and also, with great fanfare, warning them that this and all future stories were not about me or about them and so not to keep asking me about that for the next fifty years. All authors, I assured them, are inspired by their real life. Even so.
I also made a mistake. I propped myself up for years with self-assurances that I would not read my reviews. Every Day Fiction has an added author minefield: they let their readers rate (and subscribers comment on) the stories. The first time I clicked over to see for myself the published story there was already a comment. My eyes couldn’t help but to flick down there and see… Ow! The first comment is some poo-poo head who admitted to not thoroughly reading the piece and inevitably then read stuff into it that wasn’t there and then claimed it was too much (even though, I repeat, it wasn’t there). I have been taking deep breaths about this since, though my brother-in-law has been obsessively watching the comments and ratings and has assured me that someone has properly put them and their comments in their place. I may or may not know this person, but either way I have to smile suspiciously at their username. I have also been told by someone about some other negative comments but I tried to politely push that conversation away and attempt not to lose sleep about the insinuations. This is tough stuff.
With all those mixed emotions and with Christmas days away, I didn’t find the time to let you all know what had happened. I should have. I was working myself up and calming myself down. So whether or not you are going to comment here about how bad the voice in the story is or how tool and dies don’t make certain calendars anymore or whatever, I’m going to let you all know that a monumental event has happened and I wish you would go read “Pinned Up” and enjoy it and I hope you’ll be seeing much more of my work over the next year and years and years to come.