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Michelle's Musings

Dangling Carrots

Getting published seems like a crapshoot at times. And I'm not saying this from the point of view of someone who's been unsuccessful. I've been published for several years and in various venues, including print and online magazines as well as anthologies. A humor piece of mine even won first place in a national writing competition. All of these achievements occurred amid countless rejection letters. And while I've diligently worked to improve my craft, there's more to being a published author than skill and talent.


I've been writing a monthly newsletter column for one of my writers groups for more than 10 years. However, I got that job because the organization had an immediate need to fill it. I was reluctant at first and even lamented having to come up with the requisite four- to five hundred-word count each month. But when I wrote my first column, I actually needed to chop off a considerable hunk.


My first contributing editor gig also saw its genesis in serendipity. I was checking my p.o. box at The UPS Store one day when the owner said she'd noticed that I received mail from various writers organizations. She was also a writer and was in the process of selling the postal mailbox business and taking on an editorial position with the local newspaper. She asked if I'd be interested in producing articles for the newspaper's magazine publications. I jumped on the offer, and several published pieces came of that chance encounter.


While my publication success is partly attributable to being in the right place at the right time, I must always produce a good product. But breaking into new venues on a regular basis remains a formidable task. Since the consolidation of several publishing houses, placing material seems even more challenging. We've all heard stories about acclaimed authors who were rejected by traditional publishers only to end up on a prominent bestsellers list after their self-published book garnered tremendous praise. It's been amusing to watch the major houses mine the indies for commercially viable authors.


As with many professions, success often comes down to a combination of talent and luck (right place at the right time, who you know, etc.) Yes, I've got a few notches in my belt, so you may ask, what am I whining about? Well, for me, any victory represents the proverbial dangling carrot and leaves me wanting more. Wanting more makes me work harder at my craft, which is a positive feedback loop that keeps me pecking away until I'm fed that next carrot!

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