A boxing taco. That's the subject of the first story I ever wrote, which I read to the other second grade students in Mrs. Moore's class at Morningside Elementary: "The boxing taco fought in Madison Round Garden. When he sweated, he dripped tomato juice." Not Newberry award-winning stuff, for sure...but my classmates' laughter was like medicine to me, a shy and often frightened child.
Writing became my passion. An uncle in the publishing business showed me how to use a Writer's Market in order to check guidelines for suitable markets and submit articles, poems and stories to magazines. It was a pivotal moment in my life. By twelve, I had my first piece printed on the back of a Sunday School "take home" paper. What a thrill! I kept the $8 check in a scrapbook, which I still have.
I continued to write through junior high and high school, collecting tons of rejections--and just enough success to keep me motivated. In 1993, I graduated with a BA in Professional Writing/Music from Baylor University. And in 1995, I took a job as a writer in the public relations office for a seminary my new husband was attending, which honed my skills in interviewing, research and meeting deadlines.
But after working for a year for barely minimum wage, I felt that I could make more money and have more fun freelancing. After praying through the decision (and with my hubby's blessing and encouragement, which have been vital), I gave my notice.
Since then, I've been blessed to write professionally as a freelancer, either part- to full-time. Though my husband has made the bulk of our "paying-the-bills money," mine has come in handy with extras and has allowed me to be home with our two sons during formative seasons in their lives.
I'm so grateful that my Uncle H.V. selflessly introduced me to the concept of professional writing. If it hadn't been for his early encouragement, I might have decided to pursue a different career.
So if you're longing to get published, familiarize yourself with writers' markets--either those of single publishers, or large books/websites that list multiple places looking for well-written words. Market guides and sites are a wonderful place to gather new ideas, learn about existing and new publications, and find out the requirements to land a paying "gig."
Here are a few to check out:
- Writer's Market
- Sally Stuart (for Christian writers)
- Sally Clark (she highlights a different market each day)
- Market List
Who knows? The first story you write might be the start to a very interesting journey.
Now: for a fun contest. Comment on this post, and you'll be entered to win a prize pack of books for women (including Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms).
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm in the mood for Mexican food.