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    Home Articles

    How I Got Published

    The week after my last day at work, I read an essay in the weekly career section of a national newspaper by a reader who survived his company's lay off. He felt demotivated because he misses the support of his officemates. No, I shook my head, my case is worse and sentences formed one after another that I had to site down and write them, and the words flowed for 3 days.

    I e-mailed this reaction to the Section Editor on a Sunday night. It didn't even have a title. After 1,200 bone and soul-deep words, all I wanted was to share what I felt about that major life-changing blow -- the anger, confusion, self-blaming, fear, loneliness and depression. Publication was now a distant, almost forgotten, fantasy.

    It was published on Wednesday and I felt hot and cold all over. How will my former office react? Oh no, the world knows I'm jobless! Yet I was so excited and proud that I treated myself to a mango cake roll!

    When word spread, my cellphone was swamped with congratulatory messages. Everyone liked it because it was candid, honest, real and easy to relate to. They were so pleased to learn of my hidden talent that they posted my piece on the bulletin board!

    More kudos followed from the members of my online writing group, and co-participants in the workshops I attended congratulated me when I shared my breakthrough experience. A reader of that newspaper who's nearing retirement wants me to help write her memoirs! The owner of the business center where I go to type, print, fax and e-mail my piece wants me to write her biography!

    It was unbelievable to receive all these offers based on one personal piece and someone with no previous publishing or journalistic experience. It was simply outrageous!

    And simply amazing. Now I understand that the world will not beat a path to my door until I show it what I've got. And the more I put my heart into what I write, the better the chances of seeing it in print. As one workshop lecturer said, the stronger you feel about your piece, the more you should submit it.

    When I write simply to share, doors open and opportunities come my way. Like most beginners, I'm still at the trial and error, hit and miss stage, and some proposals offered are too big to handle because I need more experience. Yet they also give me confidence to experiment on different styles, topics, audiences and publications because those affirmations and possibilities show me how much more I can do and how much farther I can go.

    I am now trying to find a job that will allow me to still write and contribute because I don't want to let go of the many interesting ideas I'm now coming up and experimenting with. This quote from H. Jackson Brown, Jr. helped in my decision: "Life doesn't require that we be the best -- only that we try our best."

    Just try. You'll never know the unexpected things that could happen until you submit it. And it just might be the biggest surprise of your life! Even if I don't end up a full time, freelance, famous and wealthy writer, this ongoing exploration on how far I can go (though some say it's impractical given my age and the world's economic situation) is giving more color, texture and adventure into my life. I've met interesting people, went to different places and it's changing how I see myself. That's why I'm sure this phase is something I can look back to with contentment whatever the future brings.

    To have tried, even if you fail or could have gone further but didn't, is still far better than to be forever gripped or excused by fear, laziness or all-or-nothing expectations. I hope you'll try it, too, and see for yourself.

    Copyright © 2003 Bing Fuentes

    Bing Fuentes began writing at age 10 when her English teacher required her class to keep a diary. The summer after Bing's high school graduation, her short story was published in a local magazine. Although she submitted articles to her college paper and company newsletter where she worked for 10 years, the desire to get published (and paid!) resurfaced only in 2001 when she joined writing workshops and met other writers. Contact Bing at bingfuentes@yahoo.com.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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