Last week, I wrote about how this blog has helped me develop a writing practice and become better at the craft. I’m a late bloomer when it comes to writing. Although I’ve been writing for a long time, I’ve always been a dabbler, trying this and that style, starting projects I’ve never finished, getting easily distracted by the next exciting idea I have. And I’m fine with this. Creative writing is a hobby for me, not a job. But now that this blog has helped me to get serious about writing, I’ve also decided to get serious about putting my work out into the world.
My New Year’s resolutions for 2020 are to:
- Complete a final revision of my first young adult novel and acquire an agent.
- Complete a first draft of my second young adult novel.
- Submit all fifteen of my short stories to at least ten journals each.
Pretty ambitious for someone who only submitted to a journal once before in December 2016, got a rejection, and then never submitted again. But I’m ready. I had to get here on my own time and that time is now.
It wasn’t just keeping a blog that got me here. It’s the writing community I’ve built in Boulder. I have a regular critique group, a regular writing group, and several talented writing date buddies who I’ve met through various workshops and events I participate in. These people encourage me, motivate me, get me unstuck, find the good, find the bad, and generally help me keep my ass in the chair and fingers on the keys. My non-writing friends have also been really supportive over the years too and even contributed ideas that have made it into my work. I’m so appreciative to have all these people in my life.
And so, on January 9 this year, I got my first acceptance and it was from Lowestoft Chronicle. I’m so excited by this! It’s a good start for the year and has certainly motivated me to keep working toward my resolutions. Lowestoft Chronicle is a quarterly online literary journal that’s been around for over a decade. You can read my story, International Arrival, here. I’m stoked to have a story in the latest issue among the other excellent work, like Round the Bend and The Ligustrum Needs Pruning. And if you’re curious how I came up with the idea, come back and finish reading this post after the story. Or you can finish the post now. No spoilers, I promise!
The Story Behind the Story: When I finished undergrad in December 2001 at 22 years old, I found a job in Mexico on the internet and took off into the world. This may not strike you as all that strange or risky, but remember that back then, the internet was still very much in its infancy. There was no widespread access, no smartphones, no apps, no peer rating, no reviews, no social media – not even MySpace! So now I’m kind of terrified when I look back at the fact that I found random jobs on random websites in foreign countries and just went there trusting total strangers with no way to connect beforehand with people who’d already been there to get the lowdown. What was I thinking? That’s where this story idea stems from. The main character—Artyom the driver from Armenia—really did pick me up at Moscow Sheremetevo in September 2002 to start an academic year of teaching in Volgograd, Russia, and he was a friendly person who did his job well. But the similarities between my reality and this story end there. Enjoy!