We’ve been home from the hospital with our new baby for just over a week now, but just like with babies number two and three, I’ll never forget that week when we brought home our first little guy.
It was actually one specific night that week, that I reached a huge milestone in future writing career. The night in question was July 3, 2011.
We had brought home the new baby a few days earlier, and, like all new parents, were stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted.
You just wouldn’t believe how something so small and innocent can completely turn your world upside down. That first one is the toughest, because nobody prepares you. They can’t. When other parents say “you won’t sleep,” you might think you know what they’re talking about. You don’t. (On a positive note, it must have not been that bad, considering we’re now up to kiddo # 4.)
Anyhow, we were taking turns sitting up with the baby in 3 hour shifts and my shift was just beginning at 2:00 AM. My wife handed me the bottle and wandered upstairs to the bedroom, no doubt with her eyes shut, and probably fell asleep half-way there, luckily falling forward onto the bed instead of backward down the stairs.
The baby was in that sort-of-almost-asleep-state where he just kind of switched between a gurgle and a cry. I went into the kitchen to mix more formula and then decided to stop and check my email.
And there it was, an email from the editor of an anthology I had been shortlisted for. I read the first part:
“Thank you for the opportunity to read and consider your work for our anthology…”
I sighed. I was a little bummed because it was my first shortlist and I really hoped the story had a chance. I scrolled up to close the email without reading the rest of it, but just before the window closed, I caught the words “love” and “include.”
My heart skipped two beats. It must have been the sleep deprivation causing a hallucination. But I took my chances and read that next line again. And again.
“I’m excited to tell you that I’d love to include it in the anthology!”
Holy cow, it was real. Coma or no coma, I ran upstairs and told my wife, who may or may not have heard me, and then went back downstairs and picked up the baby. I held him, silently gloating for the next couple of hours until it was my turn to go back to bed.
The story was “Fresh Dirt” and the anthology was Children of the Moon: A Werewolf Anthology. It’s currently out of print, but still pops up every now and then on Amazon. An updated version is available in Voluted Tales, Issue 13 if you’d like to read it. For what it’s worth, it’s still one of my favorite stories.
But back to the story of it’s publication, a couple of days later one of my friends came over to see the baby. To celebrate my first child and first publication, we each had a glass of my favorite top shelf Gold Label. I’m certain that those two shots cost more than the token payment from publishing that story, but it didn’t matter then, and it still doesn’t matter.
Getting published for the first time really makes you realize that your dream just might amount to more than just a dream. It’s that great feeling you get knowing that somebody else enjoyed your work enough to give you a chance.
And in part, that’s what I hope to accomplish with Theme of Absence. I love giving new writers the opportunity to achieve their first publication credit.
Getting your first acceptance isn’t easy. And it doesn’t make getting your second one any easier either. But everyone has to start somewhere.
So here I am, nearly six years since my first acceptance. Counting upcoming publications, I’ve had over twenty-five short stories accepted since then, and one novel published (Fun fact: That acceptance letter came on the day my third child was born). I still haven’t made very much money writing, but I am proud of the accomplishments I’ve made in the last six years, and can’t wait to see where the next six take me.
I’ve got quite a few goals for this blog, but one of the primary ones is to continue to inspire and encourage new writers. If you’re out there and haven’t yet received that first acceptance letter, keep trying. You will get there eventually if you don’t give up.
Thanks for reading, and if you’ve got a cool story to share about receiving your first acceptance letter, tell us about it in the comments section!