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A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie
A Year of Writing Dangerously : Getting Published

A Year of Writing Dangerously (Day 273)

Getting Published

By Barbara Abercrombie

"First publication is a pure, carnal leap into that dark which one dreams is life." — Hortense Calisher

Years ago a new student came to class and said that everyone had always told her she wrote wonderful letters and should write, so now was the time. She was in her late forties and nervous about putting herself to the test. A week or two into the course, she wrote an essay about something that had happened to her at the gym, and with hands shaking, she read it to the class. The essay was strange and weird and interesting — the class and I loved it. I told her to send it out immediately. She was stunned — send it out? Try to get it published? Yes, I said, and start with the big magazines first.

So she did. A few weeks later there was a hysterical but joyful message on my answering machine: she had just gotten word that a big magazine in New York wanted to publish her essay.

It is joyful to get published right away — but there’s also a downside. She didn’t get published again for a number of years, long enough to grow awful doubts about her own talent and to think that maybe the first essay was a fluke. Finally she had a story published in a good anthology, and I often think of her. That first essay wasn’t a fluke. She had talent, and I hope she’s still writing. •

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Excerpted from A YEAR OF WRITING DANGEROUSLY: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement Copyright © 2012 by Barbara Abercrombie. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. or 800/972-6657 ext. 52.

Barbara AbercrombieBarbara Abercrombie teaches in the writing program at UCLA Extension. The author of novels, children's books, and many essays and articles in national publications, her fourteenth book is "A Year of Writing Dangerously." More »