Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Power and Bravery of very small steps


Those last few months were rough. We had to have our sweet cat Colby put to sleep because of pancreatic and liver cancer. September and October literally blew in rather violently with hurricanes, one which saw us uprooted and evacuated with no way of knowing what we'd return home to. Chronic illness raised it's ugly head, I was T-boned by a pick-up on my way home from work, and I had to have an abnormal growth removed from my back which was akin to minor surgery (a fact the doctor's office didn't seem to think particularly important to tell me beforehand).

This isn't a woe-is-me post. I don't want sympathy. I'm sending out a very real photograph of what the last four months were like for my husband and me. Crazy. Wind-blown. Grief stricken. Scary. Stressful.

And yet...I had this little, tiny goal.

Back in September the Insecure Writer's Support Group posted about a new Anthology competition. The topic was announced along with all the other submission guidelines. The due date was November 1st. It had been a long, long time since I'd submitted anything other than a cookie recipe. My mind was made up: I would write a short story (something I'm not very adept at) and submit it. 

That was it. Just one, tiny submission.

Then the M.E. I deal with came up like Cthulhu, all tentacles and foreboding omens. We evacuated our home and most of our possessions. The very next weekend I went to a conference for work and the following weekend we were in Atlanta for a concert and family reunion. 

I was millimeters away from saying, "You know what? No one will blame me if I sit this anthology out. I've been through a lot."

But I didn't. I wrote while we were on the road trip-family reunion-concert weekend. I sat at my mother's dining room table and finished off the major (MAJOR) editing so I could get under that blasted word count. I agonized over a title. I read it out loud at least a half dozen times. The cats loved it! They fell asleep every time :/

October 30th. Two days before the deadline and I emailed the story in. It didn't go through. I fixed the program, uploaded it to something else and resubmitted it. Success!! I breathed a sign of relief, drank a glass of red and was proud of myself. I did it. I accomplished a goal. I submitted a story.

Sure, I wanted to be published. I even thought over my title good and hard thinking, "If it won, what title would be a good one for an entire anthology?" But I didn't stress. 

Flash forward to December 23.The day before Christmas Eve, I was sitting at my In-Law's kitchen table when I saw an email. It was from Alex and the subject line said: IWSG Anthology.


With shaky hands I opened it. I read the words printed. I read them again. Then I screamed. I started to cry. Everyone in the house looked at me, went silent. My husband looks at me calmly and says, "Is this a GOOD thing?" I shoved my phone in his face and let him read:

"This won’t be officially announced until January 04 so please don’t announce it until after that date. Your story made it into the IWSG anthology! Congratulations. The IWSG Admins wanted to give you an early Christmas present. The publisher will be in contact with you after Christmas. And guess what? Your story came in at number one! It will be the featured story and the anthology will be titled after it."



I've had recipes published. I've had personal essays in newsletters published. But this? This is my fiction. My heart. My soul. 

And they said yes.

It didn't seem real. It still doesn't! But the more communication I have with the publishers the more real it seems. I've danced in the kitchen much to the kittens' chagrin. I've ran in circles around the living room (tiny circles, but circles!). I've cried. I've laughed. I've freaked the crap out because now I have to: up-my-game-in-the-blogging-writing-world-connecting-get-more-stuff-out-there-there-are-four-other-short-stories-I-need-to-edit-and-submit-and...

You get the picture.

So here I am. Bare bones and breathing. Shaking. Terrified. Fluttering in the wind for all the world to see. There is a responsibility that comes with writing. An even greater one with being published. I have a lot of work to do but I'M EXCITED. I have a little nugget of encouragement.

I did it. I can do it again.

The point of this long post is: SUBMIT your story. Especially if you think you can't. I took a chance, tightened my belt and, like Bilbo, went on with the dwarfs into Smaug's cavern. And this time it paid off. Next time could bring rejection. The next dozen times could bring rejection but that's OK. I have a dollop of glitter and I'll never, ever let it diminish.

I now KNOW I can do it. And I'll cling to that knowledge until the skin falls from my fingers. My fondest wish for ALL OF YOU, Dear Readers, is that you TOO find your shard, your glimmering truth. Whatever it may be, let it be a guiding light, a talisman that reminds you, especially in your darkest moments, YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN BECAUSE YOU DID IT BEFORE.



  1. The greatest triumphs come after the greatest struggle. Really glad you took a chance and wrote and submitted that story.

  2. Your life is your example! I'm extremely happy for you.

  3. I love this so much!!!! Congrats, Jen!!!

  4. Beautiful! May this be a testimony to others. And I absolutely LOVED your story. The moment I read it, I knew it was my #1 pick.

    1. Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! That truly means a lot :)

  5. I'm glad that I was late getting around to fellow IWSG member's posts, because I might have missed this one, which literally gave me shivers, Jen. It was wonderful, inspiring, uplifting! I was screaming and dancing with you! Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment! I can't wait to read your featured story! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thank you so very much. Your comment means so much! Thank you for the dancing :) I'll take all the partners I can get. Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Wow! That is awesome news! Congrats. I am so excited for you. Thanks for sharing to because it is such an inspiration to keep going with our goals even when everything turns crappy. All the best for 2017 :)

    1. Thank you so much, Tabitha! It can definitely be hard to press through dark times but I can now say that I understand the sweetness of the other side. Plowing through darkness to find the light: that's a theme I try to keep at the forefront of all my writing. It seems, in hindsight, it's been an integral part of my personal story all along.

  7. You are a super star. Congratulations, again!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Of course you can do it! I've NEVER doubted it. You have an amazing voice...
    From the get-go, your story was my favorite...and as good as the others were (and there were loads of good stories) yours had already captured my heart!

    1. You cannot know how much this means to me. You're encouragement has always been a source of motivation and cheer for me. Thank you, thank for your kind words about my story. I'm truly touched and a bit teary eyed!

  9. validation! everyone seeks it, craves it. congrats on facing the challenges and accomplishing your goal! you did it!

    and i wanted to thank you for stopping by my cradle rock post at Ken's place =)
    happy 2017!

    1. Thank YOU for stopping here and for your sweet comment. Have a wonderful 2017 :)


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.

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