I wrote a story. It was the first and only story I’d ever written at the time. My UC Extension teacher, in whose post-day-job, evening fiction workshop I tentatively engaged, urged me to send it out. Where? I’d asked. I didn’t know. A litmag. The only litmag I knew was ZYZZYVA*, a subscription gifted to me by
an ex-boyfriend a guy I used to know.
(*At the time, ZYZZYVA was in all caps, italics. Now, the italics is no more).
Send it there! My teacher, now a good friend, urged me to send my story over.
And so I did. As an exercise. I expected a rejection. They say that writers get hundreds of rejections–I hadn’t sent any stories out, so the odds were not in my favor. And yet, I was naïve enough to dare to send my first story out to ZYZZYVA. Had I known then what I know now, I would have been too cowed to send my story to such a competitive litmag. (There may be a lesson in this somewhere).
Even so, I got a letter in the mail 4 days later. It was an acceptance. From Howard Junker.
I opened the envelope, one I hadn’t yet learned would bode well, by the heft of its contents–experienced writers know that acceptances (ironically) weigh more than rejections. I hadn’t known then that I would receive hundreds of rejections as a writer go forward. I unfolded and began to read and there I saw the words “like,” “accept,” “publication.” At that point, all I saw in the entirety of my world was that acceptance letter.
And that–that was the moment I knew that I could become a writer and begin to dream.
I was in the kitchen. I set down the letter, only half read. I called my husband. And screamed, “My story is going to be published!”