I graduated from Beloit College with a BA in Creative Writing in 2007.
It wasn’t until four years later that I published my first piece in a competitive press, Michele McDannold’s journal Citizens for Decent Literature. That was in March 2013. One month later, I had a second piece accepted by Jack Marlowe’s Gutter Eloquence Magazine.
I was finally getting my writing published in excellent journals, alongside MFAs and prolific writers with many books to their credit. I had grown enough as a writer in the past decade to have reached a point of being able to write well, but the question was what now?
I was employed at Monroe College as a librarian, English tutor, substitute professor, and advisor to the campus Poetry Club. I truly enjoyed my jobs at Monroe College, but I knew I had a choice to make. I could either stay in academia and write a little bit here and there, or I could take a leap into the unknown and really move forward as a writer. I did what I knew was best and left my position at Monroe.
Some might consider it crazy to leave a good job that you enjoy behind to pursue your literary dream. Maybe it is. However, if I didn’t do that, I know that I wouldn’t be the writer for an upcoming blockbuster TV series’ accompanying book. I know that if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have my writing widely published. I know that if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have had any time to write period.
I left New York for a friend’s home in rural Pennsylvania. She gave me a free room. I wrote, and I let her skewer my writing, working with me as my editor until my writing was flawless. Afterwards, I sent out my writing and much of it got published.
Why did it happen? How did I go from ten years of no publications to someone beginning to make a name for himself as a writer? I credit it all to the bold move of burning my bridges and just going for it.
Now, of course, it’s not just about being bold. You have to mix boldness with intelligence and hard work. I wrote incessantly. I worked with an excellent editor who gave me great feedback because I knew that no writer can be objective about his own writing. I spent countless hours reading and researching various literary journals to find which ones would be appropriate matches for my writing. That’s how I did it. I realized that there is no other way, but that three-part process:
1. Writing: You need to write all the time. Some of your ideas will be great and others will not, but just keep writing. It’s the only way you will improve.
2. Working with a skilled editor: Rairigh Drum saved my fiction. My stories were good, but she made them excellent. I couldn’t have done it on my own. I needed her. All writers need editors.
3. Researching the publishers: No matter how great a piece of writing is, if you send it to a market that’s an inappropriate fit it’ll get rejected. The hours I spent researching literary journals online was not only an exercise in finding other amazing writers, but it really allowed me to find appropriate homes for my work.
I hope you found this blog post helpful—now go out there and make your mark on the literary game!