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First Story Published!

July 25, 2011

I have sold my first story! It was a wonderful feeling to see it in print and quite startling in some ways. The story has had a long journey – I wrote it well over a year ago for a Mslexia prompt for their monthly competition, however I didn’t finish it in time to send it in. On re-reading it I also decided that it wasn’t quite the right style for Mslexia so it languished on my hard drive for several months.

I then started sending out a few stories to magazines, with no success, but it did make me realise that I need to sort out the stories I had written and come up with some sort of system for organising them. As part of this I found all sorts of random bits of writing, some finished some not, including this story. I looked through Dutrope, trying to find a home for it – or at least somewhere I could send it that it wouldn’t be laughed at. There didn’t seem to be anywhere suitable so back to the electronic filing cabinet it went.

Then I came across a blog – womagwriter which talked about a range of magazines that I hadn’t thought about before. After I had read a few I remembered this story and  realised that I might have somewhere to send it.

I read through it again – trimming it down slightly, fixing the wording in a couple of places, correcting mistakes I hadn’t noticed before, which showed the value of leaving a piece of work for a while, as I never noticed them before. I then downloaded and very carefully read the guidelines for People’s Friend. With a covering letter, SAE, and a very carefully printed out story I sent it off to the magazine, and started to wait, (expecting a rejection). Instead, four months after I sent it off, I got back an email sending they would like to buy it! So of course I sent back a delighted ‘Yes’. What I didn’t realise was the time it takes between the magazine buying a story and it getting published. Initially, every week I was there with the latest copy of People’s Friend, looking for my story. In the end I decided that I must have missed it and gave up. I felt slightly deflated and a slightly stupid – I had missed my first experience of being published. I hadn’t told anyone and was quite glad I hadn’t mentioned it. I almost thought that I had dreamed the whole experience.

Out of the blue I received an email saying that it was going to be published in this weeks (23 July 11) People’s Friend. I quickly went out and picked up a copy, flicking through in the shop until I found my story, standing and grinning for several minutes, inconveniencing several other shoppers as I was stuck in the middle of the aisle, for which I apologise!

It was a wonderful warm feeling to see my words in print, beautifully illustrated which I hadn’t expected, although I should have done having seen other stories in the magazine, but for some reason I didn’t expect to see a picture with my story! They had changed the name of the story – I had called it ‘Spider’s legs’ which I have to admit is not the best title. It was renamed as ‘A Kind of Peace’ which works a lot better and gives a better idea of what the story is about. It is an area which I am going to have to work on.

So what have I learnt from this?

  • Publishing takes time – even after the story has been bought.
  • I need to work on story titles!
  • Even if at first you think that there is no where for a story to go to, something will turn up – don’t discard anything!
  • And nothing beats that warm feeling of seeing your words in print
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