I'm right there with you. Okay, so maybe not so young anymore, but still definitely hungry and getting hungrier all the time.
I've been wanting to be a professional fiction writer for the better part of thirty years. Not knowing anyhting about intellectual property laws, I thought I would write the continuing adventures of Sam Gamgee (not Frodo, but I kinda touch on that in another post). That was back in the forth grade. Fast forward almost three decades.
Last December, I received a communication from someone I knew at Fantasy Flight Games Incorporated, asking if I'd like to write a few pieces for the Call of Chthulu card game. Being a hungry, hopeful writer, I jumped on it, cranked out the stories, sent them off as soon as I had the contract, did the cuts and rewrites they asked, and now I'm waiting on the check. It should be here sometime this week.
Until now, the closed thing to a professional writing anything was back in 2001, where my story "Two Pickpockets" received and honorable mention in the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library Writing contest. A contest I am now ineligible to participate in. Even with that, as exciting as it was, I didn't feel like a real writer.
At some point in March, the guy a FFG I've been working with tells me that he liked my work so much and one of the characters I've created, that they want to expand the character into being a permanent fixture in the game. They're going to make a card out of him. All in 500is words. Pretty cool stuff. But, I'm still not feeling like a Pro. It's not real for me yet.
April 5th, 2011: The creative director I've been working with at Fantasy Flight games sends me four emails. Each email contains a PDF of one of the stories I've written for them. Right at the top: By: Michael Gallowglas. My name in the byline. Twenty thousand people around the world are going to see my name on that byline. Sure, some of the, hell most of them, won't care. They're going to scan that name even faster than they scan the stories I've written before moving on to see what the new cards are. Well, that is if they read it at all. I'm sure some won't bother. It doesn't matter, because I have a byline. That's the moment it became "real" to me. That's when I realize that I can really do this thing I've kind of been chasing after for so long.
So here's my advice to young and hungry writers: and yes Miss Rachel Litfin, I'm thinking specifically at you, get something in print in a reputable market. It may be a literary journal where your only compensation is discounted contributers copies, but your name will be in the byline. It will be real for you. It will make it that much easier to plant your butt in front of the computer/typewriter and compose when other parts your life are screaming for attention.
By: Michael Gallowglas is my new drug. I don't think I'm ever going to get enough of it.
Good luck! Stay hungry!
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."