Do you remember the first time one of your short stories was accepted for publication? Your baby, the work of art you spent hours, days, even months perfecting finally found a home. Science fiction author Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, A Scanner Darkly) claimed that the publication of his first story was the most magical moment of his life, and remained so even later in his career after he published dozens of novels.
While I can’t claim that my first publication was the most magical time of my life, I definitely can say it was still very exciting. I had spent the past three years writing stories and submitting, piling up those rejection letters, the expected process every seasoned writer tells you about. “Old Woman” was my first publication, but it was not the first story I had written, nor was it the best. I had gotten lucky, I think, in finding a fledgling magazine and making the submission at the right time. I launched a dart in the dark and by good fortune hit the target, so to speak. Not that I want to put the story down, either. No, I like this story. I like the frenzied, dizzying imagery and the sense of paranoid drama developed in the first person narration.
“Old Woman” came to me one morning in a quick flash. I saw in my mind’s eye a haunting image of a witch-like woman, beautiful and alluring when you first meet her, until she possesses you, and then she becomes a malevolent old hag, wreaking havoc to your mind, driving you insane. I wrote the first draft in about an hour, then polished up the draft over the next couple days. The main character, a man named Gordon, rants and raves in paranoid madness about the entity that has called his mind home, building a castle using his thoughts and dreams. Ultimately, she is destroying him in this diabolical takeover.
My euphoria seemed uncontainable that morning when I received the acceptance letter from Dark Gothic’s chief editor Ms. Cinsearae S. I called my mom, some of my brothers, cousins. I paced the living room, exclaiming celebratory remarks. Later that evening at work I was telling random strangers the good news. I could finally say I was a real author. Someone else liked my work well enough to exhibit it in their magazine.
What was the experience like for you when you received that first publication acceptance letter?
If you’d like to read my story along with other great tales about vampires and the paranormal, you can get a copy of the Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine Fall 2009 issue here.