A few months ago, I submitted one of my short stories to a journal that was looking for Australian speculative fiction. To my exteme delight, it was accepted. Last weekend, issue 5 of the Cicerone Journal was published and I hit a pretty awesome milestone.
I’ve self-published a couple of picture books and a short videogame. I’ve written and edited for my alma mater’s student publication. I’m a professional content writer for a really awesome company—awesome not just because they’re the most supportive workplace I’ve ever been a part of, but because with every blog post they strive to create the best piece of content out there on the subject.
But this is special. It’s incredibly validating that a professional publication saw something special in my writing and therefore decided to include it in their issue. I’m immeasurably grateful—and bloody proud of myself too.
It’s given me confidence and motivation to keep submitting my stories. That’s not necessarily something I was lacking, but I earned my writing skills through relentless practice in the mines of fanfiction, and there’s some pros and cons to that. The one that I think about most is both a pro and a con: if you’re writing about a story people love, someone will love you for writing about it.
I wouldn’t say I was a bad writer when I started out. I’ve read a lot of books and written sporadically over my life. But it wasn’t until 2017 that I wrote something start-to-finish that wasn’t for school.
And it was fanfic. I’ll be honest, I go back and reread fic from back then (and it wasn’t even that long ago) and I have to grit my teeth to get through it because I can spot a lot of things I would do differently now. Like I say, it wasn’t bad, I’ve just improved a lot since then.
Because it was a love story between a very popular pairing for a very popular fandom, it got plenty of hits and likes and comments. Which meant that every time I posted a chapter, I was encouraged to write the next one. And then I’d post that and I’d get more encouragement. It made me feel great about myself! But, and I say this with great fondness for past Laura, it wasn’t a story any publisher would pick up.
Four years and 1.6 million words of fanfic later, I’m writing stories that could be picked up. That are being picked up. Hell, I’ve been employed to write things.
Being published isn’t the endgame for all writers. It’s an enjoyable activity (most of the time) and not everyone is gonna want to monetize that. But for me, being published has been a lifelong dream. And I’ll be honest, I won’t consider this aspiration truly complete until I have a book on my shelf with my name on the spine. But damn if this isn’t one of my greatest accomplishments to date.