At the start of the year I enrolled in a 6 week "Writing for Magazines" course, which consisted of weekly 2-hour sessions. I've certainly dabbled in writing, of course online, but in print too for some independent magazines over the years (I had a regular column in a tattoo magazine, and I've written for a few other niche mags). I've never been paid for my writing though, and I've never considered myself a 'real' writer, and never written for a mainstream publication.
So I packed my notebook and pens (always multiple) and off I went. I wasn't really sure what to expect if I'm honest. It was a pretty small class, perhaps 10 people at most, some weeks less. As always with adult classes, the attendees are delightfully varied. Some had published before, some had never even considered it before. Some had clearly defined niches or areas of interest, whereas others were more open/confused (delete as appropriate).
Confession. I'd expected to write more. This was the same for another writing course I attended at the same time at another college (Writing for Children), so perhaps this was my own misunderstanding of expectations. The classes were largely chat and conversation, with some short exercises. Each session had a different focus, from pitching to interview technique and everything in between.
The final session arrived. Half way through I'd pitched my first 'proper' idea to Cosmopolitan, and got a warm, "This sounds interesting, let me see if the editor wants it," (she didn't but I still found the exchange exciting and positive. I felt all a bit flat at the end, but on the bus ride home, scrolling through instagram, I saw this meme.
It sparked an idea, and I decided to pitch my idea to Stylist Magazine, which is definitely an aspirational goal as a place to be published. I mean, its the Stylist. I got a quick response, with their price per word rate, what they'd want me to include, and a deadline of a few days away. A sense of achievement washed over me. Here I was, being asked by the Stylist to write! For money!
Writing something for someone other than yourself (like on a blog) is scary. And not something I'm used to. I had to research, speak to people and write a few drafts. I struggled to keep it to their word limit, but did my best! Writing for a publication means writing in their tone, not just your own, and I have such a strong narrative tone when I write for myself that I found this an interesting challenge.
I sent it off and waited patiently. I eventually chased it, and was told they wouldn't be using it. Of course I'd half expected it, but still felt a little disappointed. However, despite that, I still felt a sense of achievement, and validation. My ideas and "me as a writer" were being taken seriously, which felt weird, and exciting. So I decided to see if anyone else would be interested in taking my piece.
I knew it would need to be digital, as the topicality of the subject was waning, so I decided to approach Bust. They said YES! They 'only' published it digitally, and they don't pay for that, but I was immensively proud to be published on their platform. It's a brand I respect, and I read.
Seeing my words shared to their 162,000 facebook fans, and their 70k twitter followers certainly challenged my writer's imposter syndrome.
It wasn't Stylist, but it was exciting.