WRITING THROUGH THE YEARS
In the ’60s at twenty-one, I was told I was too green by agents. In the ’70s, an agent with whom I had a non-fiction book published, told me my fiction novel would never be considered. I was pigeon-holed as a non-fiction writer. In the ’80s I was writing in a new “unaccepted” genre which later became the fad. In the ’90s I wrote, but without submitting. I had a full-time career in advertising to put my kids through college. In the first decade of the Millennium, I wrote a mystery series, but because of open-heart surgery and wondering how few years I had left, I self-published with moderate success. By the start of the 21st Century I was seventy. I took out a student loan and spent two years to get my MFA in Creative Writing, hoping to learn more and teach, only to discover my MFA thesis wasn’t a novel agents felt fit their list.
ALL IS NOT LOST
All was not a failure. In 2010, I had two short stories published in print magazines. In 2014 during my first semester of MFA, on a whim, I scanned Duotrope’s weekly list of literary magazines and submitted a story I’d written five years earlier with good comments but a dozen rejections. I sent it to a fledgling online literary magazine listed on Duotrope and the Editor-in-Chief dropped me an e-mail the day before publication date with a two-word sentence: You’re published.
My MFA alumni were celebratory over my acceptance. Then a second story was published. In 2016, I had 18 more stories published. But by then, many seemed bored with my “overnight success.” When I won NY Literary Magazine’s, 5 Star Award For Meaningful Literary Short Fiction, they yawned. In 2017, after 20 published stories, there was a consensus, like gamblers around a blackjack table, I was “counting cards” or just plain lucky. In 2018, I passed the 50 mark of short stories published in two years. At an MFA residency, an alumnus said: “I see you’re still cranking out a lot of stories … but mostly with the same publisher. You must know someone there.”
LUCK & WORK GO HAND IN HAND
Yes, I did–the Editor-in-Chief, whom I had never met face-to- face, but went from a blind response of, “You’re published,” to, “We have so many new young writers this issue that, instead of using this submission this weekend, I would like to feature your story in January as our lead story. Would that be okay with you?” Of course, it was okay with me. But perhaps it was a card I’d counted on.
Since then, my recommendation to that Editor-in-Chief of three of my MFA alumni’s works have been published. Currently, I’ve had 62 stories published since 2010 and I submit short fiction every month to a variety of literary publications. I also have two novels I continue to query agents, while I continue to work on a third novel to be completed by June.
Resilience is required for those who want to make writing the driving force in their lives. You can empower your life as a writer against all the obstacles, which are many. Face each new day with your determination set on DEFAULT– that special place to go where nothing can come between you and your art.
Gerald Arthur Winter has a BA in Journalism from Rutgers U. and an MFA in Creative Writing from U. of Tampa. His short stories have been published by. The Connotation Press, The Creativity Webzine, 2 Elizabeths, Gremlin Creative, and NY Literary Magazine which published his story, “A Free Sampling,” with a 5 Star Award for Meaningful Fiction in September 2016. Winter has published more than 60 literary stories since 2010. You can discover more at: www.geraldarthurwinter.com