In the midst of my non-stop yoga, teaching, yoga teaching, and, uh, yoga, I still fancy myself a writer. Not a "real" writer, mind you, since the last time I set pen to paper (or fingers to keys, rather) to spin a yarn was months ago. But, every day I run to my mailbox to look for any news from publishers on my submitted stories.
Last night I was checking my email and saw a note from a woman named Suzanne with the subject line "To the River", and I click on it to see which journal I can mark "rejected" by. Not because I don't love my story or think I'm a good writer, but because that's how it works in the writing world--99 out of a hundred emails of that type are rejections.
Well, this was 1 in 100. Bellevue Literary Review is publishing my beloved story, "To the River" in their Fall '09 issue. "To the River" has a colorful history. I wrote it five years ago for a class at the Loft, and worked and worked on a billion drafts. It traveled to Zoetrope: All Story in California to be accepted by Editor Michael Ray for the Belize Writer's Conference in the fall of 2005, where both George Saunders and Charlie D'Ambrosio offered their opinions on it. I submitted it and it was summarily rejected by about a dozen places. Then I put it away for a few years.
I took it out last year because I needed a strong story for a workshop...something that I thought was finished but wasn't making the grade. I took it out because it's my favorite story that I've written. It was my first "real" story...the one I wrote after I dusted off the pipes on a number of lesser yarns. I wanted it to be my first published story as well. It's kind of my literary baby. (Writers know what I'm talking about here...the rest of you, I assure you I'm not weird...at least in this regard.)
And now, a published writer, I feel more legitimate as a writer. I won't say I feel like a "real" writer, because I don't think that publication creates the writer. But, did I feel different waking up this morning? Yeah, I actually did. Perhaps it's because Bellevue proved me wrong--that in my own mind I had set that I would never be published. Sadly, I think that's true. I'd even thought about giving up writing (maybe I unofficially had given it up, at least in the last few months) for more successful endeavors.
I'm so proud of myself. I love this story and I'm so happy that I believed in it enough to send it out again to find the right reader, the right journal.