Today is my anniversary. No not my wedding anniversary but the anniversary of writing my first story for a magazine.
I had just finished an online writing course and my tutor had suggested that this might be a good direction to take but I was naïve: I had no idea how to go about it or even what sort of stories the magazine’s wanted.
Those first stories were pretty bad and looking back at them I can see why so many of those first ones were rejected. In a word, I had no idea what I was doing but I was determined that I would not give up until I’d had a story published.
I took stock and realised that this was not something I could do without help. Where was this help to come from? In fact it came from many sources. Firstly there were many practical questions I needed answering: Was it permissible to send two in one envelope? How long should I expect to wait before hearing back?
Having read Linda Lewis’s excellent book, The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas, I decided that she might be the one to help me out with the practical side of writing and how right I was: she answered all my questions patiently and was very encouraging in those early days of insecurity. Her kind words: I have a feeling you're going to have success quite soon as you have all the qualities you need - imagination to come up with lots of stories, and perseverance… made me all the more determined to succeed and those words have stayed with me.
Practical issues sorted out, what of the emotional support that every writer needs? My husband has always been my greatest support but I also needed the company of other writers (even if only virtual) and so turned to the web and to other writers’ blogs. The first one I read was this one and I spent hours pouring over the old posts – I was like a child in a sweet shop!
I then did some reading of other blogs and what I found was a wonderful warm community of writers. Their informative posts or even just general writerly chat helped me to realise I was not alone out there. This was about the time (last August) that I made my first sale to Take a Break’s Fiction Feast (a huge thank you to Norah McGrath) and decided to start my own blog Wendy’s Writing Now to chart my writing progress from first sale and to help and encourage other new writers.
I am so glad I did: the encouragement and warmth of both new and established writers has been indescribable and a great boost on those gloomy ‘I can’t do this any more’ days. What I learnt in the blogging world is you get back what you put in – I try and be as involved as I can in other writer’s blogs and in turn receive lovely comments from my new writing ‘friends’ and have even managed to meet up with one of them.
‘But what of the writing?’ I hear you ask. Well, I know that I have been very lucky: Soon after my sale to Fiction Feast, the lovely People’s Friend bought one of my stories and I cannot thank them enough for their time and patience, since then, in helping me to make my stories better. Without their faith in my writing I may well have given up. A sale to Woman’s Weekly followed.
I have been privileged this last year to have sold fourteen stories to Fiction Feast, The People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly and I can honestly say that the thrill of seeing the stories in print never abates BUT it hasn’t been easy. I have had many, many rejections but with each rejection I pick myself up and write another one. My biggest advice to new writers is write, write, write and send, send, send – it’s the only way if you are serious about magazine writing.
Good luck to all you new writers out there. I hope my story will encourage you. My latest short story, ‘Remember’, can be read in this month’s Fiction Feast and the inspiration behind this story can be read on my blog.