The first year after graduating from college with an English degree is a pivotal time for a writer: Should I keep working on stories and essays I wrote in college? Should I write new material? Is it worth my time submitting to literary magazines, or should I just write for fun? Will I be so burned out from college writing courses that I’ll just stop writing?

The truth is, I did feel burned out after college. I’ve written about how I felt like I wasn’t a writer in college because I couldn’t write every day; turns out, that problem follows you into a full-time job, especially one that draws on your creative energies like editing does. Making time to write (or even revise older pieces) is a deliberate choice you have to make.

I was fortunate to have some time to write in late 2017, and in the first few months of 2018, and I was even more fortunate to find homes for some of those pieces. But not all the pieces that I published this year were new—several were revised pieces or poems that I wrote in college. And that’s important to note, because it often seems intimidating when you see writers posting about end-of-the-year acceptances and publications numbers when you don’t have the context. For example, I could tell you that I had eight acceptances at literary magazines this year and was published seven times, but those numbers become more meaningful when I add that I sent out 142 submissions and received 87 rejections. (Eighty-seven! That’s 1.67 rejections each week.)

With that in mind, below are my short stories, essays, and poems that literary magazines published in 2018 with context about how they came to be.

“I Do Not Have to Tell You This” in So to Speak, January 2018

My first piece published this year is probably the most personal thing I’ve put out in the world. “I Do Not Have to Tell You This” is an essay that explores my perspective on #MeToo; it’s short but approaches an important cultural moment from a different perspective. I’m very grateful that So to Speak published this essay on its blog, even though it’s a little scary to have such a personal essay online.

“Logan Paul Is Dead” in Dream Pop Journal, May 2018

After the Logan Paul incident last January, inspiration struck: a story idea about Logan and the Universe battling it out. This idea invigorated me, and I wrote a first draft in which Logan died in the end. After several conversations with my trusted friend and editor, Mary Carnoali, I decided to rework the ending—and I’m so glad I did, as it’s much better in the final draft.

Logan Paul Is Dead” is the most substantial piece of writing I’ve created since graduating college. It took a lot of work, and I’m so proud of how it turned out. Equally pleasing were the positive responses from editors and lit mags that rejected it. I was absolutely delighted when Dream Pop Journal published it and stunned when the editors nominated my short story for the 2018 Best of the Net awards. This short story is the highlight of my year in terms of writing and publishing wins.

“Full” in Déraciné Magazine, May 2018

This is a weird little flash fiction that I spat out one night in fall 2017. “Full” is inspired by the life of Charles Domery, a real guy who really did eat a bunch of stuff, at least according to Wikipedia. I wrote this short piece after reading Domery’s Wikipedia page—I was transfixed by his life and wanted to explore his perspective. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what to call this—fiction or creative nonfiction? I eventually settled on fiction and found a good home for it. I was so happy that Déraciné Magazine included “Full” in its Volume II this summer, and I appreciate the editors’ thoughtful edits to the piece and collaborative approach to the editing process.

“Six Tankas” with Hannah Fortna in Moonchild Magazine, May 2018

Hannah Fortna and I wrote “Six Tankas” collaboratively in our college poetry writing class in fall 2015. We each wrote three haikus, then swapped and finished out each other’s haikus to form tankas. We originally published them in Potpourri 2016 under a pen name and were delighted when Moonchild Magazine announced it was looking for exquisite corpses (collaboratively written pieces). Being published in Moonchild is a dream—the editor, Nadia Gerassimenko, is so supportive of the writers she publishes!

“The Frappe Games” in FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, May 2018

The Frappe Games” is a flash fiction that I conceived of a few years back from this writing prompt:

I read this today, “”Today at Starbucks, this girl ordered a drink and put the name, Primrose Everdeen on the cup, and when the barista called out her name, she screamed ‘I volunteer as tribute!’ and everyone kind of stared at her.” I think I will be going to starbucks pretty soon :)————-” but what if something bad happened after you said this?

My original draft needed some reworking—I could tell I wrote it before taking college-level writing courses—but eventually I landed on the current version of “Frappe Games.” It’s short, snappy, and just weird enough to be part of my collection of writing. I’m so glad it found a home at FIVE:2:ONE’s #thesideshow.

“I’m Not a Failure If I Stop Writing” in Fiction Southeast, June 2018

I originally wrote “I’m Not a Failure If I Stop Writing” as a blog post for my website, but I liked how it turned out, so I submitted to a few literary magazines. Fiction Southeast picked it up! The essay has started so many great conversations with people online and in person about the expectations (both internal and external) writers have to grapple with.

“Actor Annie” and “half empty” in Defuncted, December 2018

This is a last-minute addition to my publications list for 2018! These two poems, “half empty” and “Actor Annie,” had previously been published in Spider Mirror in November 2017. Spider Mirror went defunct in October 2018, and the editor of Defuncted was kind enough to give these poems a new home.

I love that these poems have new life on Defuncted—they’re two of my oldest pieces that are published and available online. I wrote “half empty” in high school—it’s admittedly angsty—and wrote “Actor Annie” in my first college writing class in 2014. “Actor Annie” is special to me as it’s about the first concert I went to: St. Vincent’s 2014 tour.

I haven’t written in several months, so I’m not sure what my 2019 publications will look like. But it’s not so much the publications that matter—it’s having the time and space to write and revise. Perhaps I’ll write new pieces; perhaps I’ll revise some older pieces. But I’m so grateful for the opportunities afforded to me this year—the responses from editors and readers have encouraged me to keep writing in the upcoming year.