number 5

Sometimes the good stuff in life is worth waiting for. Delayed gratification can bring about some of the sweetest rewards a person can experience.

My fifth story, “What You Wish For,” was published yesterday in Black Denim Lit (, an online literary zine. It’s listed as one of the four December stories the editors selected. It’s hard not to be thrilled. It’s hard not to jump up and down and run around screaming like a ninny. Yes, being published is that good. Try it and see. Really.

I still contend that, if you aspire to write, there is nothing like the confirmation you receive from seeing your story in someone else’s magazine. Strangers have taken the time to read and evaluate your story, and they have found it good and worthy of print. Sweet. There’s nothing like it.

Of course it sounds like I’m saying that I rely on others’ opinions to boost my self-worth, but I’m not saying that at all; for weirdos like me who like to tell tales, there is something affirming about publishing. It’s like a shiny token of communal acceptance in an otherwise solitary world. Blogs, as nice as they are (and now viable options for publishing your work, as I’ve discussed before in this blog here and here), aren’t the same: they’re self-reflexive and, at their worst, narcissistic. Posting your work on your blog usually leads to positive feedback delivered in an echo chamber, which makes it hard to filter out accurate, unbiased feedback- if it exists at all. But if you’re lucky enough to have your work accepted, that becomes the unbiased appraisal you need. Honest feedback, in both acceptances and rejection slips, are valuable. And if that acceptance is spaced out enough with the others, it ends up functioning as a motivator that keeps you toiling away in this often esteem crushing activity. Like the occasional birdie putt or straight, long drive that lands square in the fairway, the glow from an accepted story is just enough to keep you plugging along.

Writing for me is just something I have to do. It’s not essential to see the work online or in print, but it sure is nice. The reward for all of the work is in the creation of the story, the publishing is just the gravy. And as for delayed gratification, well, even if you have to wait a long time to be published, it’s still as sweet. Maybe sweeter.


bdl screenshot

© 2016, Brian Stumbaugh. All rights reserved.