Actually, the title of this piece is misleading: I've been published many times over many years. Have a look at my writing credits page if you don't believe me! So what am I crowing about?
Well, most of my published writing is about educational matters, apart from articles and a poem I had published when I was a student. But in a quest to develop my writing skills, I enrolled on a creative non-fiction course last year -- see Can creative writing be taught? -- and then entered a couple of pieces for the City Lit's annual anthology, Between the Lines.
I was astonished, and delighted of course, to learn that one of the pieces had been accepted. It's an article about dementia, called The Long Goodbye. Someone in the writing class said it was the best description of dementia she had ever read. It certainly has the effect of causing everyone who reads it to start weeping. At least, I hope it's that, and not the quality of my writing!
There is something definitely satisfying about having something published that is completely outside of one's usual genre. Not only that, the competition was fierce: if you could see the quality of the other items that were included, you'd see what I mean. I'm hoping to be able to link to some extracts in due course.
In the meantime, I'll stop patting myself on the back: I have a book to get back to! But before I do, I've learnt some valuable lessons, which may be of use to others:
- It's definitely a good idea to try writing in a completely different field. I believe that the challenge really helped me to develop my writing skills.
- Writing about personal stuff is extremely uncomfortable for me -- I am quite a private person. So it was quite nice to think that it was worth the discomfort -- not so much because of getting the piece published, but because other people may find it useful.
- Seeing the article published was nice in itself, not simply from an ego point of view, but because it proved to me that I am able to write about non-education matters and still get published.
So all in all, it has been a worthwhile experience, and I'd encourage all writers or would-be writers to do challenge themselves in a similar way.