The first time I was published, I was 11 years old. My mother used to enter me into all of these silly contests for youth book clubs, and one year, I actually won. A snippet of my essay on the book ‘Habibi’ (which remains my favorite book to this day) was published, and I was awarded a special luncheon with the staff of the local newspaper. Up until that point I had loved reading and writing, but didn’t think much of sharing my work with others. Once I saw my name in print, everything from then on changed.
Flash forward another 11 years and I am now the founder and editor of Wildflower Magazine, an art and literature magazine for women in the state of Nevada. If you had told me when I was a child that I would grow up to start my own publication, I would have been skeptical. However, from 11 years on I was published consistently and eventually landed a job as a reporter for a newspaper (at the ripe age of 14), and subsequently a position as the editor of the Brushfire Literary Arts Journal, not to mention the dozens of publications I was fortunate to work with in between. This all happened through my mother’s insistence, and a quick burst of confidence (some may say insanity) that lead me to submit my work to a publication.
Being published is scary. By doing so, you’re allowing your thoughts and words to be critiqued by an often harsh community – the world. Your words become immortal, and hold a power and weight. When the right opportunity occurs for a writer to be published, his or her writing becomes the stuff of change, of influence, of inspiration.
Be bold and share your voice with the community. The worst that can happen is “no” – and believe me, any writer worth his or her salt goes through numerous rejections before that fateful door finally opens. The UNR community offers many opportunities to be published, and also has a great support system for those looking to publish their own work independently.
The moral of my story: listen to your mother.
– Ashley Hennefer is a Graduate Writing Consultant at the Writing Center