This was originally written 8 months ago and never posted. Doing it now because it’s still true:
Monday night, I submitted my fifth story to a literary magazine. It’s not a lot, but that’s only because I’m not counting the fanfiction. So, story time.
A million years ago, in the Dark Ages before there was widespread internet in Trinidad and Tobago, I discovered fanfiction. I can’t remember the year exactly, I just know it was after The Mummy (1999) and before I started reading Harry Potter. I was obsessed with Ancient Egypt by this point and I stumbled across this website featuring stories based on the movie. Specifically, Imhotep and Anak-su-namun’s relationship. It was an eye-opener.
I didn’t read any more Mummy fanfiction after that, or of any other fandom in general until the night I decided I loved Harry x Hermione. (Still do.) Anyway. I read so much fanfiction, I got tired of it and then decided to try my hand at writing it. I still have the email I received when I was accepted into the fanfiction website.
In a lot of ways, writing stories for magazines is like writing fanfiction except you are paid for your magazine stories and fanfiction is fun. Just don’t get into either expecting instant fame and success. Both requires building an audience through your work. (I love to recite the adage “if you build it, they will come”.) You have to be patient. You have to learn to deal with strangers reading your work and their response to it. It’s not going to be 100% love and praise. But most important, you have to persevere. Write what you like, but keep writing.
But, on submissions. I’ve only just started putting my work out there and the difference is stark. Instant publishing in fanfiction means you can get your work to readers and have feedback in a matter of hours. With literary magazines, you will sometimes have to wait a month or more before you find out if they want your story in the first place. Yeah, I’ve been learning to live without that instant gratification.
I used to think I would never write a short story, or submit to magazines. I have come to realise that actually, submitting to magazines, like writing fanfiction, is a good way to hone your craft. You also get an introduction to working with contracts, professional editors, and of course, being paid for your work. (This last part is so important.) Editors are a blessing and make me wish I had worked with beta readers with my fanfiction. I was too damn shy to ask anyone so that has led to some learning experiences.
So this story was rejected, I think it was “Hero” and I’ve set that one aside to rewrite later.
I don’t think I would be where I am today without fanfiction, without that first acceptance letter. I know my family is certainly happy that I can do something with all this time I’ve spent writing stories. With luck and a lot of hard work, I hope I can actually move on to getting a novel published professionally. My fictionpress novel needs a lot of work and I have at least three other ideas waiting in the wings that are hopefully less trouble. (Ha, lol, nope, whole different ballgame.)
So what am I trying to say here? You never know what could happen and if you want to improve, you’ve got to keep going, even through the hard times. I mean, I’ve just started though, so maybe I’m just talking a lot of crap. Also, fanfiction/fandom can be awesome.
*sweeps all other forms of fandom garbage under a rug, covers it, pats twice for good measure and walks away whistling*