I sold my first short story more than thirty years ago. I didn’t make a fortune from writing, but I sold work regularly for a good number of years. Then I hit a fifteen year writer’s block. I went to university, set up my own business and generally got on with life. Last year, I started writing again, and it was as if I’d come round from a long sleep and woken up on a different planet.
I no longer need the stack of envelopes to send my work to editors. Mostly, it’s online submissions now. I’ve had one response, a lovely hand-written letter, from the editor of one magazine. As for the other paper submissions I’ve sent into the wide blue yonder, they have disappeared without trace.
I remember being taken out to lunch by the fiction editor of a women’s magazine. She was touring the country, talking to regular authors, wining and dining them. In other words, she made us feel valued.
Now, the business of writing seems so impersonal. Writing is, by its nature, a solitary pursuit. There’s a strong online community of writers, plenty of groups to join on Facebook, plenty of blogs to read. But I miss the old way of doing things, the relationships that editors had time to nurture, the simple courtesy of a response to a story or article.
I miss the satisfaction of a stack of neatly typed pages, crisp and clean, and the trip to the post office to send my latest offering on its way. Now I don’t have to move from my desk to submit work. It’s quicker, more convenient to submit online, but it doesn’t seem real. There is no physical product at the end of a working day, just words on the screen, another document saved at the touch of a button.
But I’m learning to be a 21st century writer. This blog is part of the learning process. And at least I am writing again.