When I first decided to test the waters as a freelance writer, I was an exhausted mother with two elementary-aged kids and a very sick newborn. I was battling post-partum depression, stuck in the house every day and needed an escape. I couldn’t use either of my two majors in college – elementary special education and Spanish, because I needed to stay at home. It seemed like a bleak, dark year ahead, and I wasn’t sure how I’d get through it.
Funny enough, it was my husband who suggested that I consider writing from home. He’s never been a fan of my writing style and to this day has only read a handful of articles I’ve written. He’s never read either of my fiction manuscripts. But he knew I loved to write and encouraged me to give it a try. Every elective in college had been honors level English and Creative Writing classes, but I wondered if I really had what it took to write on a regular basis.
I searched online and found a very clunky writer’s forum – the original Writer’s Digest forum where every post was screened and would often take several days to appear. A seasoned writer or two who frequented the site answered my endless questions about the trade of writing and encouraged me to try my hand at it. Both suggested a single book to get started – the Writer’s Market.
I checked out an older copy from the library and scanned the pages of listed markets – book publishers, magazines, and periodicals. It was the first glimmer of hope; surely one market in the hefty book would be a good match for me. I eventually bought my own copy, which is stored in a box along with my first year’s worth of writing notes and published clips. The dogeared, highlighted book helped launch a career and was often better therapy than a paid professional during that first tough year.
I’ve had a lot of published bylines since that first year, and I honestly thought the giddy feeling of finally seeing one’s name in print was a faded memory, kind of like the feeling of a first kiss. Sure there are others, some far better than that first one, but none are ever quite as memorable or reach the heights of emotion as the very first time.
I was wrong.
When I saw my byline in this year’s Writer’s Market with my article about syndication, I felt that silly schoolgirl giddiness all over again. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I paid for my deluxe version at our local Border’s bookstore. And I couldn’t put it down once I got home. I scanned the rest of the articles – some very good ones I want to read – and marvelled at how many more markets there are now than when I first started. But then I returned to my own article and read every last word of it. Robert Brewer did a fantastic job of editing, and I am very grateful for the chance to contribute to the book which helped launch my own career.
I may not have a lot more “first kiss” moments left, but this one – well, I’ll remember it for a long time.