"The greatest miracle for me was getting started. I feel - and the anxiety is still vivid to me - that I might easily have failed before I began." ~ V.S. Naipaul, 2001 Nobel Lecture
Less than two weeks ago, I graduated from Lesley University with my MFA in Creative Writing. That event, including the teaching of my seminar, a public reading of my work, and the graduation ceremony itself, was phenomenal. All the pieces clicked into place. But this writer's life isn't a puzzle. There is no true culmination, no moment to stop and sigh and count myself a success. The steps I've taken so far are like the teeth on the counter-turning wheels and sprockets in a clock. Moving eternally, progressing, passing similar ways over and over again until the action is smooth.
So, now that I've got the degree, now that someone has told me officially that I'm on the right track craft-wise and voice-wise and passion-wise, what? Now what do I do?
The wheels within the clock turn, teeth tuck into grooves. The hands on the face are propelled forward. This is work. This is what Natalia Ginzburg calls my "vocation." This is what Proust says takes "talent." And this is what Naipaul, that legendary, sexist, literary genius, says takes "luck, and much labour."
The good news is that the work has already begun. I've been sharing my little snippets of good fortune (and much labor) via Facebook and Twitter, but I wanted to recount it here as a record for me and to share it with my readership. (In case you want to read more of me elsewhere!)
I began submitting my work in January. And in the last six months, I've had three essays published.
Not Yet. Someday. Not Yet. appeared in the April 2012 issue of Foliate Oak Literary Magazine out of the University of Arkansas. The digital version can be found here .
Leaving the Nest appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of CAIRN: The St. Andrew's Review out of St. Andrew's University in North Carolina. No digital version, unfortunately, but hard copies are available for purchase here .
Between Stone and Air appeared in the July 2012 issue of Forge magazine. Digital version here . Hard copies will also be available for purchase.
As well, I've had a couple of pieces published by The Oslo Eye , an all-English webzine (or e-zine) for expats in Norway.
The Goon Squad Comes to Oslo was posted in May ( here ).
Modern Day Tragedies and American Clichés was posted in June ( here ).
And then yesterday, I received another fun acceptance of sorts. A few months back, I queried an emerging fashion and lifestyle publication called Sweet Lemon Magazine . I thought I had a few good story ideas for them and that my writing style would be a good fit for their target demographic: smart, sophisticated, adventurous women in their '20s. As it turns out, Sweet Lemon is launching a new blog, and they've invited me to write four posts for the The Zesty Digest in coming weeks. If all goes according to plan, my first will appear next Tuesday.
So, the ball is rolling, and I want to keep that momentum! I've got queries to write and send out to commercial magazines, and I've got completed essays to submit to literary magazines, and I've got new writing to do.
Here's to luck. And much labor.