The experience still doesn't feel entirely real. A few weeks ago, my mom sent me an entry from the blog -- a fellow unemployed woman's story -- and said it was something I could have written. Indeed, our experiences had many parallels. It was comforting to have definitive proof that I'm not alone in the "Well, THAT could have gone better..." of it all.
There was an invitation at the end of the post to submit my own story, so I emailed the editors with a short pitch. I didn't expect to hear back soon -- or at all -- but got a reply in about 30 minutes. In fact, every time I emailed the editors, I got a quick reply. I was stunned. You're replying to little ole me? Why I do declare!
The editors invited me to submit my story, I said thanks, and then did nothing for about a week. I've learned I can't force myself to write. The words will arrive when they're ready. Finally, I wrote a draft I was pleased with, but had to cut about 150 words to meet the word limit. Cutting the extraneous words also eliminated much of the personality from the piece. I was bored with the draft, but knew the piece would eventually become something I was happy with.
A few days later, I crafted a post I liked. I submitted it, figuring I'd be given a publication date months in the future, if I got one at all. (Again, none of this seemed real.) Fewer than 24 hours later, my post went live. About 12 hours before it was posted, I wrote an email to my dad. We have a long-standing joke about our "fame," which generally pokes fun at the out-of-the-way venues where we've done poetry readings. Famous at the Starbucks on Indy's east side! Famous in Tipton! This time I wrote, "FAMOUS IN THE HUFFINGTON POST!" I started to hit send immediately, but didn't want to jinx myself out of getting published. While I've been published before, it's always -- ALWAYS -- an amazing feeling, especially with something like this that is SUCH a big deal. When asked to go to my happy place, you can bet I'm imagining my byline at the top of a shiny piece of writing.
So far, the blog post has generated a lot of shares and a lot of really nice comments. I was worried that trolls would come out of the woodwork and savage the piece, as is the nature of the Internet, but I've only received a couple semi-snarky comments. I am happy and encouraged and thrilled that the editors have invited me to submit more work. I don't need to be famous, but it feels pretty great to have my name a little further out in the world.