Sweat, blood, and a byline
2 a.m. and I am staring wide-eyed at the computer screen. A piece of notebook paper sits next to it, with the words “Act Structure” scribbled across the top of the page. I stare from the computer screen, to the piece of paper, back to the computer screen. Hopelessness is the only term I can think of to describe the exasperation I am experiencing.
I type up a few sentences only to pause, read them, and then push down on the backspace. Again, I look at the paper then back to the screen.
I sigh and let my head drop into my hands. If I wasn’t a resident assistant in a dormitory with thin walls, I would scream.
What the hell have I gotten myself into?
As tormented as I may have been, it was in the wee hours of nights like these that I learned the true writing process: the frustration, the exhaustion, and the pain.
But one year later I’ve also learned the much brighter side to writing: the success.
In the spring of 2010 I took the editor and mentor of this project’s Intro to Magazine Writing class. Although I continuously feared I was going to fail and almost dropped the class, I was encouraged to stick it out. So I did. And by the end of the semester I had a story that my professor deemed pitch worthy. I decided I wanted to pitch it to Running Times magazine.
It took me about five months before I ever sat down to write the pitch letter. Just the idea of sending my idea off to an editor scared me.
But finally, one day this past fall I sat myself down in the library and told myself I was not leaving until I had a pitch letter written. I think it took me about three hours to get that pitch letter the way the I wanted it to be, but those three hours were all worth it. A week after sending it off to the editor of Running Times magazine, I received a response.
I had to go back and rework my story. With the help of Brad King I created a new act structure. I conducted more interviews. And I can’t tell you how many hours I spent behind a computer screen wondering if my story was ever going to find its way to the glossy pages of Running Times.
But there it is. On page 52 of the May 2011 issue is my byline, on page 53, my story. And for all the sweat, blood, and tears it took to get my name there, it was completely worth it.