Lessons from publication in Seventeen

Last Friday was a big day for me: I had an article published by a mainstream media outlet. It felt bigger than USA Today, bigger than anything I’ve done before.

Last Friday, I had an article published by Seventeen.

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Isn’t it pretty? I think it’s pretty. Maybe that’s just me…

This was a huge occasion for me, career-wise and as far as personal development goes. The “career-wise” benefit seems like something I hardly need to explain (so I won’t), but let’s talk a little about personal development.

The article was about a friendship I had that was lost due to my depression. And through writing the article, I was able to finally come to terms with this. I feel like I’ve been freed from a burden of hatred that I carried around for three years.

And it was arguably the most personal thing I’ve had published by a mainstream media outlet. Of course I write very personally here on the blog, but that’s neither sanctioned nor publicized by editors at big-name magazines. This was. It felt like a stamp of approval from someone in the know, not only of my experiences but also of my writing.

Which feels so good to have. To know that media professionals read what I had to say and liked what I said and how I said it. That feels great.

But I’ve learned a few lessons that were harder to swallow, as well. As you might notice if you Google me or look on Wikipedia, I’m not famous.The fact that I don’t have my own Wikipedia page is a constant source of horror for me. I wrote an essay for class recently about my long-held desire of being famous, and in it I explored all the reasons why I crave fame.

This article did not bring me instant fame. It did not initiate a flood of new Twitter and Facebook followers or indicate the start of the cult of Karis. It had more than 10,000 views (holla), which is nothing to sneeze at (thank you Kiley of Girl-ish for getting that phrase stuck in my head), but none of those 10,000+ people decided that their lives would be better off by following me.

I wrote last week about how I’ve learned that opportunity is hard to come by. It seems that success as a well-known and regarded writer is the same way. One article in Seventeen will not an award-winning writer make. I still have to work really hard, every day, to improve and receive recognition.

Which isn’t necessarily something I’m mad about. I mean, sure, I hate working hard and wish I could just snap my fingers and have a book, bound and covered, at my fingertips. But this isn’t a fantasy world we’re living in. There is no magic and there are no free passes. There is only hard work and, occasionally, having that hard work pay off.

I’m really excited about where my writing journey will take me. Already it’s gone in unexpected places. I did not think that coming to grad school in New York would open the door to publication by Seventeen magazine, but so it was. And already that has opened the door for a possible new writing opportunity that will allow me to share my experiences as well as what God is doing with my life — for a publication that, while not necessarily “mainstream media,” does have a Wikipedia page. Which is more than I can say for myself at the moment.

I’m excited about the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo. I’m woefully behind, but I’m excited about finishing The Langone Five. And after that, I get to edit My Mom’s a Killer and maybe start sending out query letters.

I’m excited about poetry, the art of writing personally yet beautifully.

I’m excited about personal essays, about combining reporting with things I’m passionate about and writing from the heart.

And I’m excited about good, old-fashioned third-person reporting, telling people’s stories without letting myself get in the way.

In short, after being published by Seventeen I’ve learned that yes, writing is where my heart is. Writing is something that makes my soul sing, and I can’t wait to continue on the journey, climbing the torturously high ladder to reach success. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to enjoy the ride.

 

 

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