If you go back and look at previous entries on this blog each December 27th, you'll find some nostalgic ramblings about what happened on that day in 1976. The condensed version is that on
December 27th, 1976, I made my first fiction sale, a confession yarn (some of you may not know what that is) to a long-since-defunct magazine called INTIMATE STORY. The check that arrived 35 years ago today was my first indication that the story had sold. There was no letter of acceptance beforehand or anything like that, or even a contract, just a check from Ideal Publishing for $167.50.
So, after 35 years in this business, what have I learned? Not a hell of a lot, I think most of the time. Recently I've noticed that I'm doing a lot more rewriting during the editing stage on my manuscripts, seeing ways to improve them that I never noticed before. That's got me wondering if maybe I'm lucky enough to keep writing for another 35 years, I might finally begin to figure out what I'm doing. I wouldn't count on it, though.
Mostly I've learned that writing is more fun than anything else I could do for a living and that by and large writers are one of the best groups of people you could ever find. The Internet, which I couldn't have even dreamed of back in '76, has just increased that sense of community. When I sold my first story I didn't know anyone who had ever sold any fiction. The only person I'd ever met who had even had fiction published was my cousin Richard Finley, who had the only story he ever wrote accepted by his college literary magazine. And several more years went by before I even started corresponding with other writers (other than my editor at MSMM, Sam Merwin Jr.), let alone met any of them in person. Of course, I was living with a writer at the time, I just didn't know it yet.
To sum up, I'm old and I've been doing this for a long time. But I hope I can stay at it for a while longer.