For 11 years, I saw my name in print most every day.
Sometimes, I had several stories in one edition; I believe my record was eight.
I loved it, not because people knew my name, but because I believed in the power of writing. I believed in newspapers (and still do). I believed I was changing lives, even if sometimes that change was barely perceptible to most.
But none of that compares to the rush I got today when I received an email from an editor at Aethlon, a literary sports journal centered at East Tennessee State University. My short story, "Conquering Iwo Jima," has been accepted for publication.
I was giddy.
(Okay, so I'd had a little wine before I checked my email!)
This is different.
Different because this is fiction.
And this is my first.
I had stopped writing short stories soon after I finished my thesis for Binghamton University in 2000. My first son was two months old when I earned my degree and I had started teaching as an adjunct English instructor four months later. Then along came my daughter and, after she was born, I started the novel.
I freelanced (changed diapers), taught (changed diapers), and freelanced some more while I worked on the novel. Five years later, after a weekend of revisions, I was finally done.
Then I learned I was pregnant again.
No biggie, I thought (after the shock wore off).
Nothing was going to stop me.
Nothing except maybe twins.
They kind of brought things to a crawl.
But now they are two and, slowly, I am started to emerge from my mommy fog. One day in November, through that fog, I spied a folder on my laptop marked "short stories." I read through a few of them, made a some minor revisions and started searching for appropriate markets on Duotrope.com.
Within 30 minutes, I found Aethlon.
I submitted "Conquering Iwo Jima" in November and forgot about it.
Then came the email.
And the giddiness.
Just a few weeks earlier, I learned that my novel, Spring Melt, had made the quarterfinals for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I'm competing against 499 other writers, so my chances are slim. But I get at least one professional review of my full manuscript out of the deal and validation that I've got something good going here.
That makes it worth it.
I still love writing nonfiction.
I still love interviewing, investigating, creating.
But writing fiction is, for me, like that second child that you love with the same strength as the first, but you love differently. It offers a different path to change. Not better. Just different.
Fiction is a passion for me and one that I have not had the opportunity to pursue as fully as nonfiction. The giddiness comes from the realization that I might, just possibly might, finally get my chance.