As a new writer there is nothing more thrilling than the first time you get to see your work published. Like any of life’s great milestones, it is a moment to be forever cherished. Ah…truly, it is bliss.
I remember my first time. It was a zombie story called Slave in the Flesh, and it was printed in the zombie-themed anthology, Through the Eyes of the Undead in May, 2010. It seems a lifetime ago, but I realize it’s been less than a year and a half and the afterwards butt is still smoldering in the ashtray.
Since that time I’ve been striving to get more of my work–any more of my work–out there for all to see, and in any publication that will have me. I don’t stress this to discredit the publications that have published me. On the contrary, I am ever grateful and honored to have my work appear in each and every one of these excellent publications. My point here (if indeed I have one) is that when you first start publishing, a sort of bloodlust overtakes you and you need more. You become frenzied, and you don’t care where that next bit of blood is coming from or how you find yourself going about getting it. At least, this is how it seemed for me.
As I look over my publishing history to this point, I can see that I have published or am scheduled to publish, more than 20 short stories. In April of this year I started publishing poetry, and have since published 40+ poems with about ten more slated to be published through January 2012. I apologize if that sounds a bit boastful; what I’m trying to say is that I’m finally getting over the initial frenzy of “I just need to be published.” In other words, the afterglow of “the first time” is starting to fade.
Well then, what now?
There is an outbreak of writers out there looking for the quick fix, seeking fame and fortune in a one night stand. One or two of these in thousands might get lucky, but the rest will fade into oblivion. There comes a time in your writing career when you have to decide if you’re going to play the field all your life, or are you going to give it a real go in a committed relationship.
If you’re serious about writing, I believe there comes a time when you need to become more selective about not only what you are sending out for consideration, but also where you are sending it to. It becomes even more important to examine what you’re spending your time on as you go about slaving, writing, and revising. It becomes less about simply seeing your work published and more about building a readership, gaining fans, maybe getting a few professional credits to tack to your bio, or perhaps nailing just the right piece in just the right publication to garner some attention and maybe snatch up an award or two.
For my own writing career, it’s time I start actively switching gears into relationship mode. This gradual change has been occurring without me being fully conscious of it, as I’ve noticed myself concentrating on “bigger picture” projects: writing poems with collections and chapbooks in mind, stories for my own short story collections, longer narratives like novellas, and also plotting out novels. I’m dreaming up more book ideas, titles, and cover designs than I’ll ever have time to produce in the next several years to come. I find I’m spending almost as much time, if not more time, blogging and networking than I actually do writing.
I’m committing myself until the proverbial “death do us part.” All my efforts now just become pre-marketing strategies and setting the stage for the long haul. I’m building a brand and carving a strong foundation for a real business in publishing. I’m getting set for the arduous road ahead, and patiently (yet still anxiously) awaiting the destinations this career in writing/publishing sees fit to take me. Like any committed relationship, a serious career in writing takes work. I’m ready to get to work, because I’m in it to win it, or die trying.
What was your “first time” publication and where do you see your writing/publishing path taking you?