I’m proud to announce that my short story, “Pallbearer”, has been published in The First Line‘s Fall 2013 Issue!
You may notice, I specifically said I was proud to announce this publication. I’m always proud of the stories I get published, but “Pallbearer” hitting print in The First Line is an especially thrilling experience for me. I first discovered this lit magazine three years ago. I was then, and continue to be, impressed by the premise of the magazine — they supply fascinating, intriguing first lines and writers send in stories that MUST use that exact first line. So many different stories can spawn off the same starting line. It’s a great prompt and a great way to get your brain thinking and your fingers flying over the keyboard.
Over the past three years, I have submitted seven times to this magazine. Seven times. Six rejections. At some point, I gave up (this is before that magical seventh time). I said, “I can’t write literary! I don’t know what they want!” And so I stopped writing to their first lines.
That is until Story-a-Day May 2013. Any prompt that gets you writing during this grueling challenge is a blessing — whether or not the particular prompt or submission call results in a publication. So when the Fall 2013 line spoke to me, I answered the call. I wrote “Pallbearer”. I stopped focusing on what I thought The First Line wanted or didn’t want, honestly. I stopped thinking about that dang question — “what is literary fiction and how the heck do I write it?” I just wrote. I just let myself wander through this story of insecurity and weakness. I let my mind go.
I didn’t know if The First Line would accept my story. I thought it was a pretty strong tale, but I’ve thought that before. I knew it was stronger than the pieces I’d sent them in the past, but it’s hard to really know. So when I got that acceptance email, I can tell you it was the most thrilling acceptance in my young career. Every acceptance is exciting. But this was thrilling. My heart did some crazy things inside my chest and I grinned. I’m not one to dance or shout or anything, but I felt like that inside.
I tried for so long to get into this magazine, and the stories just weren’t good enough.
I kept writing, I kept learning, and I tried again.
And I did it. I did it.
Not without some help, I should add — lest I sound like some boasting, egotistical writer. I’ve learned so much over the past three years. Fellow critiquing buddies at Scribophile have taught me more than anything else. My friend and fellow writer, Jeff Suwak, has also been instrumental in my learning experience and journey as a writer. That man has insight into people and characters that I truly envy. And then of course there’s my local writer’s group who also provided helpful feedback on the piece.
So that’s it. I’ll stop blathering on and let you click the link here if you’re interested in purchasing a print or PDF copy. And thanks — for encouraging me, for teaching me, or even for just stopping by to read this. And if you buy a copy and you do read my story, let me know what you think and be honest. And thanks — because readers really make a writer’s day. 🙂
~Alexis A. Hunter