It all started when I posted a short story about my experience visiting my boyfriend’s grandfather in the hospital. A fellow blogger found that post and recommended that I submit my story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. He explained that a friend of his had submitted several stories to the franchise, and that he felt mine fit the bill.
The idea was quite intriguing. I’d been introduced to the Chicken Soup books through my mother. She read them and bought the teen editions for me, which I spent many late nights sobbing along to. The thought of someday being published in one seemed like an impossible dream. But I decided to investigate just in case. I reasoned that it could become the greatest thing I’d ever achieve.
On the Chicken Soup for the Soul website, I found that submitting a story was quite easy. All I had to do was copy and paste it from my blog and fill out some standard questions. The best part about the submission process is that Chicken Soup doesn’t send out rejection letters if your story isn’t selected. That was relieving because a polite, “thanks-but-no-thanks” email would probably crush my creative spirit. This way, I could just submit my stories and forget about them.
I received the email that my story had been chosen for the first round of the selection process late on a Friday afternoon. I was at work, in the office, and I couldn’t stop shaking. This impossible dream could become a reality. They wanted me to fill out legal forms! I scrutinized every detail of the steps I’d have to take, terrified that my story wouldn’t make it to the final round based on a technicality.
I debated publishing my story under my blogging penname. It seemed somewhat easier that way. I could get this story published and pretend it never happened. I liked the mystery. I liked the idea of people not knowing. It made it easier to write about people I knew, and take liberties with the stories I recount. Eventually, though, I decided that it was my real name that I wanted to see in print. After all, this would be the greatest thing I’d ever achieve.
That meant I had to tell my mom. The story Chicken Soup wanted to publish wasn’t the one about my boyfriend’s grandpa in the hospital. It was about a secret my mother had shared with me when I was about 6 years old. A secret we rarely talked about even now. A secret that a major book franchise wanted to publish in a book. I needed her permission. I worried she’d refuse.
I explained the situation to my mother, and she naturally wanted to read the story. She hadn’t read anything I’ve written since elementary school. She has no idea about my blog. Luckily, she loved it. She nearly cried. And she forwarded it to all of her friends as well. She was proud of me.
I received the email that my story was officially being published while I sat on an airplane. We had just touched down in Las Vegas, where a group of us were celebrating my best friend’s 30th birthday. She was a married homeowner, and I was being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. If only our 12-year-old selves could see us now.
I got the notice that my 10 free copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Mom Knows Best had arrived in Leafton 2 weeks ago. They left a sticky note on the buzzer box in my lobby. I was to go pick them up on Olde Street. Suddenly, it all felt very real. The greatest thing I would ever accomplish, come and gone in a flash.
My boyfriend and I picked up the books two days later. We went for lunch at a nearby pub in celebration. I ate mac and cheese bites and took pictures of “my” book. Of my name in print. Of the two and a half pages I’d penned. The greatest thing I’d ever accomplished.
The response I got on social media was better than on my birthday. Most of my friends and family hadn’t any clue about my blog or that I write short stories. In fact, I felt like a bit of a fraud, considering that I hadn’t done anything quite special. I did the same thing I’ve done since I was 8-years-old; write stuff out to pass the time. That’s all.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Mom Knows Best officially hit the bookstores yesterday. It’s the single greatest thing I’ve accomplished so far.