Presenting…

So, yesterday evening, something momentous happened.

Woohoo!

Woohoo!

I’m almost too excited to tell you about it. But I will, of course.

Yesterday evening, a lifelong dream was realised when my first published story went live, on the (frankly, incredibly beautiful) website of Number Eleven Magazine. The magazine has just launched, so I have the double honour of being published, and also being published in a magazine’s inaugural issue. How cool is that?

Here is a link to my story ‘Animal Farm’ – but please bear in mind that it is a story with dark themes and dystopian imagery, and may not be suitable for younger readers. The magazine’s homepage can be found here if you’d rather just browse around the whole thing. I heartily recommend you do just that, in fact. The other writers published in Number Eleven are highly accomplished and talented, and their stories are all worth reading; as well as that there’s artwork to peruse and the sheer gorgeousness of the site itself. Waiting for the site to unveil was so exciting; we were promised something beautiful, and the editorial/design team behind it certainly did a marvellous job.

It’s a funny thing, when you finally get to see something you’ve written in print. Funny because you can’t quite believe it’s there after all these years of dreaming about it, and also because, if you’re anything like me, you read over your piece and think ‘Man, I should’ve changed that bit… and this bit… and what was I thinking here?’ Clearly, the story was judged good enough, and it was chosen out of a lot of submissions, so it has merit. But I also think that it’s in the nature of a writer to never be quite satisfied with anything they create. It may be a safety-valve thing, a guarantee that they’ll keep trying and keep striving, and never stop creating.

(I’d rather think that than the alternative, which is writers are all a bunch of neurotic self-obsessives. But feel free to make of it what you will!)

This is the first small step on a long journey. My husband felt the need to remind me last night that I am not in a race; this thing is lifelong, and so the steps taken will, almost by necessity, be small, and my progress will be irregular. But the only thing to do, of course, is keep going. Each success is worth so much in terms of confidence, and each one lays down a building block for the next. My efforts are by no means over now, though. I’m still submitting stories, of course, everywhere I can find a place to send them; if even one of them finds a home somewhere outside my computer hard-drive I will feel satisfied with my efforts. With every word I write, with every idea that strikes me, with every effort I make to write a story to a particular theme or to take inspiration from a prompt (if I’m entering a competition), I will come up against fear and self-doubt and regret and the old killer ‘I’m not sure about this…’; all of those things will have to be dodged, stepped over, walked around and ignored if my journey is to continue.

And I want it to continue.

Thank you to all those who read this blog, who comment on my posts, who encourage me when obstacles block the road and when the way is clear, who have supported me all these long months. I hope you’ll take the time to read not only my story but also those of the other contributors, and that you’ll continue to keep an eye on Number Eleven Magazine. And, of course, if you’d like to let me know what you think of ‘Animal Farm’, I would be very glad to hear your opinions.

Happy Tuesday! I hope you, too, have something to celebrate today.

12 thoughts on “Presenting…

  1. Kate Curtis

    Woohoo! *party poppers* *confetti* *wine* *sparklers* *fireworks* *cake* It’s time to celebrate. Even small steps are big achievements. This is BIG. You’ve worked hard. So hard that I just wrote ‘worded’ instead of ‘worked’ and had to correct myself (yet technically, it’s still not wrong). I know you have many more words ahead, but well done *attaches big gold star*

    Number Eleven Magazine looks great too. I’m looking forward to reading more from the website. I’m really impressed. I read yours first though and while ‘Animal Farm’ is amazing, it sat very uncomfortably with me. With the themes involved you probably expected that and it prevents me from loving it as much as I want to. I’m curious to know how it felt to write it. I’m also curious to know why you chose to use the term ‘Chattel’?

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Kate! Yep, yours is the reaction I’d expect from most people, especially those who are used to my ‘normal’ style of writing. I’m not sure why, but a lot of dark themes have been oozing out into my short fiction lately. I’m so glad you took the time to read it, even though it made you uncomfortable.

      How it felt to write it – well, like a release. Like a step into a different skin. Like a window into the kind of mind that could hold another person to be less than themselves, in which a man or woman or child could be reduced to an object and treated like property. I used the term ‘Chattel’ to mean just that – property, a slave, and also to reference ‘cattle’. In a word where we’ve experienced slavery and concentration camps, etc., for real, the sort of mindset in the story is one that terrifies me. Writing the story helped me to get a handle on it, I suppose.

      Thank you very much for your feedback. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Janet E. Cameron

    Congratulations! Really looking forward to reading it. And I know what you mean about seeing something in print and being afraid you’ll want to change it. I think everyone feels that way. This is great!

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Ha! When my husband read it, he asked me the same question. I’ve never seen Soylent Green. All I know of it is what’s on its Wikipedia page (which I read after the story had been submitted.) I was inspired to write it more from a ‘what’s the worst place that man’s inhumanity to man could possibly go?’ point of view. Cheery, eh?

      Thank you for reading, and for commenting. I’m glad you were intrigued, and not completely disgusted. 🙂

      Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you, Susan. ‘The creeps’ is exactly the sort of thing I was aiming for. 🙂

      Really glad that you took the time to have a read! Thanks so much.

      Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      😀

      When I publish my collection of short stories, your comment will be my cover blurb. Thanks (and sorry about the mental trauma!)

      Reply
  3. Gretta O'Hart

    Congrats SInead, well done. because of the “creeps” I’ll wait until I’m home and back in my own bed before I’ll read!

    Reply

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