Four Amazon Stars, Four Year Plans, and Publishing Fortitude: A Small Tale of Writing Success


Photo by Carly Christine Photography.

As the florid Thoreau remarks, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Today, I would have never imagined that direction would navigate me through a forest of e-mails while I hunted for not one, but two online order receipts so I could collect a refund.

This is the unfortunately dull tale of my first, but hopefully not my last of mini publishing successes.

You see, I am about to embark on a trip around the world through literature thanks to my first college English class that requests I buy The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volumes A,B, and C. Amazon only sent me vol. A when I paid for the whole set… so I frantically tried to hunt down the collection in a city that seems all too absent of bookstores. (Thanks, Internet). The Barnes and Noble guy laughed at me and said “Wow, you’re planning to do a lot of reading.” Then it hit me. I was about to do a shit ton of reading and I couldn’t waste time by not having my books. School would be starting in four days and I needed to be completely prepared.

But that’t the funny thing about life, school, work- we can never be prepared for what’s ahead, no matter how many four year life plans we make for ourselves (yes, that is exactly what I was doing a minute ago).

My rage toward the expansionist nature of the cyber-bookstore-lacking-non-stop-connection world calmed when I got an e-mail from an editor of local newspapers, saying the article, submitted in a flurry of other stressed messaging, was a “great fit” for their papers. Now this might have been a small achievement in the unforgiving world of publishing,but for me it was a huge “success in common hours.” I was definitely not expecting that news. All those dull e-mails I had to send during the day to get my appropriate textbooks or keep up with work were faithfully nudging me along in the direction I wanted to go. Sticking to the tasks at hand got my book situation corrected and- surprisingly -got my article printed.

To anyone who has a publishing dream or a simple Amazon order they need to take care of, my advice for you is to be vigilant and self assured that your efforts will allow you to achieve your goals.  You will get angry at the perpetual waterfall of e-mails you will almost drown in while editing, approving, and submitting work. You may doubt yourself- a lot. After the college application process, I was deeply saddened by the fact I was not accepted into any UC’s, not because I was sad about not being able to attend (I’m headed off to the state school of my dreams in four days), but because I thought it was the writing of my personal statement that failed my chances. I tore myself apart internally as a writer. And this is where I was misguided.

Receiving that e-mail from the editor made me realize I wrote something that someone out there was pleased to hear and thought others needed to hear too. All I needed was to find that audience. It may have been a small article, but the same principle applies to whatever short story, novel, poem, essay you seek to craft. (If it is an article you seek to publish, contact the editor of your local paper by going to their website, breathe, and submit). So before you dismiss a future of publishing, ask yourself, “Am I headed confidently in the right direction?” If you are writing, yes. If you are reading, yes. If you are invested in your own success, yes. And if you have the confidence to show that to the world? Absolutely.

With this new writing motivation, I think it’t time to revise the four year plan.


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