HOW NOT TO GET PUBLISHED Copyright 2001, Michael LaRocca http://free_reads.tripod.com
(This article may be freely published with author's information intact.)
One morning, I decided to sleep late for a change. I stumbled out of bed at 10:00, not my usual 7:00, and fired up computer. Little did I know what I'd find in my mailbox on this particular morning.
The first thing I saw was about a dozen people congratulating me for something. I opened an email at random, and it didn't say why I was being congratulated.
Meanwhile, my other mailbox opened in a different window. It informed me that 39 people had joined my newsletter mailing list since previous night. A dozen more congratulations waited for me there. I opened one up, and again there was no reason.
Instead of continuing, I played a hunch. I logged onto my publisher's website, and there it was. VIGILANTE JUSTICE. While I was sleeping, my first novel was published. (There's a 16-hour time difference between my home in Hong Kong and my publisher's office.)
I checked out VIGILANTE JUSTICE web page -- my web page -- and was astounded once more by book cover. The music, which I'd never heard before, captured mood of book perfectly. For a long moment, I simply basked in feeling. Published at last.
If someone had told me one year ago that I'd be publishing four books this year, I'd have called him an eejit.
The last time I was published, not counting VIGILANTE JUSTICE, was twelve years ago, and that doesn't count because I paid someone to do it. I'd long since given up on getting published again. In fact, I doubted I'd ever write again.
By now you may wonder how I made it from Point A to Point B. Or for that matter, why I stopped writing.
The second part is simple. I was chasing money, becoming a high-powered businessman and losing myself. The first part is a little more difficult to explain.
In December 1999, I flew to Hong Kong for a vacation. The first vacation in my life, really. I intended to stay for a month, but I never left. Instead, I married an Australian who teaches English over here. I quit my job in North Carolina by email, though I still maintain my former employer's website. I love Internet.
I found myself unable to work in this country. So what was I to do with my time? I dusted off a childhood dream and resumed writing.
I had a slush pile full of old short stories, and I ran them through on-line writing workshops. There are two parts to writing -- story and structure. I wasn't changing my stories -- they came from me and were what I wanted to write -- but my style was pathetic. Style is also part that can be learned. So I did.
Then came something that amazed me. New stories. Just mixing with "writing culture" got my creative juices flowing again. After all those years. Better than ever, in fact.
Next, I published them. Between March and December 2000, I published twenty stories in twenty different e-zines. I only made $6, but I was padding my resume. I believed that I had a short story anthology in me, and I'd decided to try e-publishing it. I felt I needed a "track record," so I got one.
I also had a novel in my slush pile, one new thing I wrote in nineties. A gripping imaginative story, badly told. But I'd finally learned about craft, structure, and hard work that comes after that original flash of inspiration.