I remember the first time I held it in my hands.
My story. My words. In print.
This was more than just a series of paragraphs scrawled on notebook paper, shoved under my bed for no one else to see. This was a book with real binding, with a real picture on the cover. Real words on the pages. My name.
Okay, so the words were still written in my 10-year-old handwriting, and the picture was a web image glued onto the front. In fifth grade, everyone wrote a story, everyone got a blank book with blank pages to write it in, to give to their parents for Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrated, they were just then starting to get fussy about that in public schools).
All I remember about my first “published” story was that it was about a dog named Molly that got lost in a snowstorm. I imagined her as a Dalmatian because (1) Disney, duh, and (2) it made more sense for a Dalmatian to get lost in snow. I was more excited for my parents to open it on Christmas morning than I was about opening my own presents that year.
It was probably five pages long, full of flat, static characters and missing a linear plotline. BUT IT WAS REAL. And it was mine.
I’m pretty sure that’s when I started wondering if I could ever be a writer someday. I’d been writing little, meaningless stories for a long time, but it had never been a dream of mine to be an author, not really. I was more interested in painting and dancing and writing music (artsy much?).
You don’t ever forget your first “published” story. I think it changes you, even when you look back on it. I’m sure my mom stored that book away somewhere with all my other fifth grade projects, and someday I’ll probably find it again and be able to reflect how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown, since then.
I entered a literary arts competition when I was 13. I think I won an award, for a poem I wrote, but for some reason I don’t remember. What I remember most was how nervous I was showing my mom when she helped me submit it, and how self-conscious I felt about a bunch of other people reading it, too.
When I was 16, on the same day, I received in the mail (1) my very first proof copy of one of my very first novels and (2) a free print copy of Teen Ink magazine, in which, to my surprise, one of my essays had been published.
That was a pretty good day. Both pieces of writing were pretty awful and you could probably find one of them online if you looked hard enough (don’t). But once again, that didn’t matter. My name. In print.
A few weeks later, I published my first blog post.
It never gets old, honestly. Putting a name to your words, putting it out there. Not because I love seeing my name in print, but because I’m so desensitized to it now, when people think it’s cool, you remember how cool it was the first time, and it’s like you’re publishing something for the first time all over again.
I think it’s healthy to keep bringing that feeling back. Because it’s very easy, the more you publish, to forget that it’s still a big deal. Sure, everybody’s doing it. But that doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment.
I also think it’s healthy to share these kinds of stories with each other. Not to brag, but to encourage. To remember. To feel on top of the world again, even if only for a moment.
So what’s your story? Do you remember the first time you ever “published” something? What was it – a blog post? An elementary school project? A post on a forum somewhere? Where are you now, compared to where you were then?
Do you remember how it felt?
Wasn’t it amazing?
Isn’t it, still?
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.