I have just sent off my first speculative email to a magazine commissioning editor.
When I say first I’m not including the time I wrote a (very) short story, typed it up on an actual typewriter (lots of uncorrected and poorly corrected typing mistakes) and and sent it to a women’s magazine without telling anyone, not even my parents. I was probably 11 or 12. The story might have got a decent mark as school homework. Actually maybe not as I was more interested in getting it finished and in the post than actually producing a decent story. I have a feeling my typed version was my first draft…
I was so excited as I was desperate to write and be published. I knew it was unlikely they would accept it but I was still hopeful. These were the days before email, computers and easy access to photocopiers. There was only one copy of my story. The days when you wrote to people enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you wanted a reply. And in those days you would generally eventually get a reply. Unsurprisingly I got a polite letter saying thanks but no thanks, returning my ‘work’. And so I gave up on that idea, convinced it was something I could never do.
These days things are sent with a click of a button and rejection is often much more immediate. Alternatively you are left in limbo, never entirely sure if something hasn’t been read or hasn’t even warranted a response. I’m not sure which to expect. Either way I have taken the plunge. And it’s so far out my comfort zone, just as much as it was when I was 11.
This time I’m better prepared and my expectations are lower: I’m fully aware it’s highly unlikely I will be commissioned on my first attempt, and I will receive many rejections along the way. I know that. Just like the first time, I’m still hoping though. But this time I know that taking the plunge is only the first step.