I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really want to write a post this week.

I’ve been very down on my writing recently, feeling significantly more inadequate than I usually do. My most recent book has not been going especially well. I won’t go into it more than that, but it was humbling to say the least. Shameful. Stupid. Easily avoidable dipshittery I should have known well enough not to step in…and somehow just went ahead and stepped in it anyway. Not exactly the ideal mindset to write anything of value for all of you.

Thankfully, in the process of trying to force myself to get back into the editor that lets me write a new post, I accidentally discovered something.

I’ve only been formally published one time. Just once. It was a science-fiction detective story. I wrote it so long ago now. I based it in a setting I’d doodled up for a board game I never made. The virtuous circle between tabletop games and my fiction is old as dirt. The moment I knew it would be published is burned eternal into my mind.

I was still living in the Olympia area in those days. Just working the most wretched kinds of retail jobs and on the weekends, writing stories and playing tabletop RPGs with my friends. Most of my adventuring party were en route to just such a game when my cell phone pinged. I pulled it from my pocket. I still remember the weight of it, that strange clumsy brick-like phone, old enough it still had a physical keyboard that slid out from the bottom of the phone.

The Etsy posting I stole this image from describes this as a "vintage cell phone".  FUCK, I'm old!

My eyes grew wide as I read. “Oh my god! Oh my god! I can’t believe it!”

It felt like my heart would leap from my chest. I wanted to throw up and scream for joy at the same time.

“What, what’s wrong?” My friend who was driving asked, concern playing across her face. I think she assumed I’d just received word a family member was dead based on how unsteady I’d become.

It was too much for me to speak for quite some time and in the end, I only just squeaked out, “They’re going to publish me.”

At once, everyone in the car erupted with questions and congratulations. They thought maybe I’d gotten whatever novel I’d most recently written through. I couldn’t explain it, the words were just gone for that moment. Ultimately, I offered them my phone to view the acceptance letter for themselves.

I remember being euphoric for the rest of that day. I thought that was just the start, that I’d build upon it and more acceptances would follow. This was surely the start of my career as a professional writer. I was very wrong. Nothing followed it. Not for a very long time. I’ve written many stories since then, most of them better in my eyes than what I got into the little digital magazine that bought my work. But none of them ever published again.

And then the recession hit, the magazine folded like so many of them did in those days. Even the proof I’d been published vanished from the internet.

Or so I thought.

Until one day, I learned about how the way back machine works and immediately I went looking for it, that story I’d written and gotten my first acceptance letter over.

This story.

I found it again this afternoon. A good digital memory to unearth, a reminder that once someone who didn’t know me from Adam read something I wrote and thought, “Yeah, I’d pay this guy to put this story on my site!”

And if one, why not more? The only reason would be fear, shame, self-hatred, the black iron chains of all those long miserable years between that day and now. And it would be the worst kind of cowardice to let myself be dragged down by only that. So the work goes on. This book will be fixed, the next will be written. And one day, I’ll see my little paper flowers accepted again. Even if I have to put them out there myself.

That’s what I have for you today, my friends. If you’re still reading, I love you very much for taking the time to read what I have to say. Please subscribe to the receive my thoughts delivered straight to your inbox if you haven’t done so already.

Remember to tend to your dreams, friends. If you don’t, who will?

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