Hello hello hello, all my fans who live all over the world with a special hello to all my fans in Argentina!
The Old Soldier is doing a little blogging and a little tweeting (re-tweeting) and a little reading of Spartan history while waiting for Pirates baseball on the radio and dreaming of how good that first beer is going to taste at Armand’s in Little Italy next week.
But I digress…
This is a painful blog post for me to write. It brings back years of rejection notices, years of desperation and self-doubt. I started mailing out short stories to different magazines in the late 1960s after I came back from Vietnam.
Year after year I would put my stories in manila envelopes and drop them in the mail box to have them come back a few weeks later. This must have gone on for twenty years.
Each time a story would come back I agonized over what was wrong with the story until I thought I knew why the story was rejected and I would write another story and send that one off. Sometimes I would have two or three different stories in the mail at the same time. They all came back. They always came back until I finally decided it didn’t matter if I got published. I was going to keep writing and keep sending my stories out because that’s what writers did. And I was a writer. Which is probably the moment that I really did become a writer.
And one day I got an acceptance notice. I didn’t get paid, but I got published. And I kept getting published. And then I started to get paid, too. And then I won a fellowship that paid for my MFA. And now I publish this magazine.
Here are three things I wish I had known when I was a young writer.
- I made writing the number one focus of my life. That was nearly a fatal mistake. I ended up being homeless. Finding a job that I liked should have been my number one focus in life.
- I should have been less focused on getting published and more focused on the business of getting published. I wasted a lot of time sending my stories to the wrong publications.
- Between high school and college, I studied Spanish for at least eight years. I could write it and speak it good enough to get by. Now “nada.” And don’t say I can get back into Spanish. I’ve got my hands full with this blog.
So, there you have it. But don’t cry for me Argentina. If it wasn’t for all the mistakes I’ve made in life, I wouldn’t be the Old Soldier.
Hail to Pitt!