Then, she encouraged me to submit one for possible publication with the college's literary collection. It was accepted, and I heard rumblings about it across the English department.
The next year I was a student editor for the same publication. I also submitted a short story. Being in that meeting where I am the only one who knows who wrote the story was torture. Only at the time, I didn't realized it, but it was an exercise on taking the criticism and developing a thick skin which I would need later.
The story made it to a second round, but ultimately was declined. A week later, another story I had written, and really didn't like won first place at the state level through another collegiate competition.
So, while in college to earn a degree in Elementary Education, a wanna-be full-time writer was born.
(Technically, born again, but that's another post.)
It has been about four years since that first publication. I had had three others since then, in addition to writing in various places across the web.
I've submitted a few other things -- mostly fiction -- here and there, none of them coming to fruition. About six months ago, I was looking for something to enter and tweeted as such. The fabulous author, Jessica Rosenburg (@kikarose), tweeted back something to the effect of, "Why? Just write your manuscript already." I quit looking for contests and got busy writing (and procrastinating) on a full manuscript.
Just over a month ago, an email hit my inbox, and while I normally don't open any from this particular self-publisher* something grabbed my attention. Long story short, it was a call for submissions for flash fiction in honor of NaNoWriMo. I took me about two weeks, five drafts, and a lot of emails with my writing support group** but I submitted that 600-word-limit at a very slim 589..
And it is now published. You can even have a copy. For free.
"Flash Focus" is different than anything I have ever written. It is absolutely my most favorite story to-date, including the current manuscript. Even if the judges don't award me with a prize, the accolades I've already received will be enough and just the motivation I needed at exactly the right time to keep going.
Although, if I were being completely honest, if they were to contact me letting me know I'd won the $500 and Nook, I wouldn't exactly turn it down.
Updated 12/29: Out of 2,000 + entries, I didn't even make the short list of finalists. Oh well. Can't win them all.
*I was using this specific self-publisher for personal projects. Like writing personalized books for my nieces and nephew. Not self-publishing books I want distributed publically. Not there is anything wrong with self-publishing for that means. I just have a dream of being in Barnes and Noble, Books a Million....
**I am actually in two writing groups -- one online and one locally. I would be lost and extremely lonely without them. I highly recommend being part of a writer's group.