On Becoming a “Real” Writer

Posted by Sarah Christ, Former GD contributor for 2.2 and 2.1, & editor for 3.1 

As a college student, to me getting published was this lofty and unreachable goal, something  that only real writers could do. After all, I was still in school learning to be a writer, who would want my work?  Then I heard that Gandy Dancer was looking for work from SUNY students.

Writer Sarah

Me holding my first publication!

When I first got notification that my creative nonfiction piece “Every Season Starts at Dick’s” was going to be published in Gandy Dancer 2.1, I was shocked.  I had submitted my work with no real expectations.  It had felt nice to be submitting something, to tip toe into the writer’s world.  So my acceptance came as a thrilling surprise that left me a little shell shocked.  When I got the call from one of the editors, I was hidden in some corner of the College Union trying to finish a paper that was due the next day.  I remember dropping everything and immediately calling everyone I could possibly think of to tell them the great news:  I was going to be published.

Since then, I have also had the honor of having my fiction piece “Welcome to Moe’s” published in Gandy Dancer 2.2.  And this semester, I’m seeing the process from the other side, as a creative nonfiction reader.  Being on both sides of the process has given me perspective on all the hard work that goes into publishing and shown me what a wonderful inspiration Gandy Dancer is to writers throughout the SUNY system.  Our journal provides an outlet for SUNY students—graduate and undergraduate.

I reached out to several past contributors and asked them what it was like to find out that their work had been accepted by Gandy Dancer.  Here is what I found:

Ethan Keeley: I distinctly remember the feeling of clicking the “Submit” button for Gandy Dancer 2.1–the feeling of dropping a family heirloom into a lake and hoping it would come back to shore unscathed. So when I was notified that my short fiction piece “Half” was selected to be published I was more relieved than anything. Shortly after, I was elated, and immediately told my parents. I finally felt like a somewhat accomplished writer, like I was doing something right; and for a writer those small doses of reassurance are like direct injections of motivation and confidence.

Amy Bishop: I was really thrilled to get the notification that my poem had been accepted for publication. It was my first publication in a literary journal, so that in it of itself was thrilling. Besides that, knowing that you’ll get to see your words in a hard copy in a book is such a rush of feeling and excitement! I was also a very new poet at that time too, so I wasn’t as confident in my work then, and not at all sure if it would be up to par with other submissions.

Craig Shay: I was very happy to have my work published in Gandy Dancer. The editors were very helpful and courteous. The design looked inspiring when I saw it. It’s always a good feeling to know that your work exists somewhere whether in print or online, because it is an extension of your identity. It also promotes literacy.

Meghan Kearns: It was exciting to realize that even though I had written about a very personal experience, I had been able to do it in a way that resonated with other people enough for them to want to share it.

So Gandy readers, will you be the next one to share the excitement of publication?  We’re accepting submissions for our Spring issue now and we can’t wait to see what you’ve got for us!

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