Today we’d like to introduce you to Windy Lynn Harris.
Windy Lynn, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m the author of Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Work Published and the founder of Market Coaching for Creative Writers, a mentoring program that helps writers place their short works in magazines.
I began my career writing short stories and personal essays back in 2005. When I thought I had something ready for publishing, I had no idea how to get a story from my desk to an interested editor. None of my writing friends had tried submitting their work before and my writing teachers only had experience in book-related submissions. I decided to figure it out for myself. I quickly realized the information available was vague, at best, and scattered among many resources.
A few months later, I placed my first essay in a magazine. And then another. And another. My writer friends wanted to know how they could get published, too, so I began coaching colleagues on the process of submitting their work. Soon, I had so many requests for information that I started giving presentations at writing groups and writing conferences. By 2016, I had over 80 of my own short stories and personal essays published and I still couldn’t find one single book that captured all of the industry information in one resource. So, with a decade of experience and success behind me, I wrote the book I’d been searching for back in 2005.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I still have my first 100 rejection letters. Rejection stings, no matter how long you’ve been at this, but a rejection letter is also a badge of honor. You were brave enough to send your writing out to the world, those letters say. I stopped counting after 100 rejections, but I’d guess my number is over 1,000 by now. I’m still disappointed each time I receive a rejection, but I don’t let it stop me. I find more places to send the rejected story and get it back out the door. Persistence does pay off!
A few things I wish I knew about rejection letters when I was first starting out:
1) Fellow writers respect your stack of rejection letters.
2) Rejection letters lead to editor relationships, that lead to future publication.
3) Rejection letters are quick and bland. Most just say, “No thank you.”
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about your business – what should we know?
These days, I’m a frequent speaker at literary events around the country and a developmental editor-for-hire specializing in short creative works. When I’m not teaching or mentoring, I’m writing. My growing list of publications include literary, trade, and women’s magazines across the U.S. and Canada in places like The Literary Review, The Sunlight Press, and Literary Mama, among others. I’m also finishing my first novel.
Writer’s Digest is the leading resource for writing information in the US and the publisher of my book. I’ve recently launched an exciting new project with them called The Writer’s Digest Author Exchange. This project is a public Facebook page intended to inspire and inform writers about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. It’s a place where writers find encouragement and support as they pursue their goals. My fellow Writer’s Digest authors and I take turns hosting the page each week, so there’s always something new happening at The Author Exchange. Participants include Chuck Wendig, William Kenower, Kerrie Flanagan, Susan Shapiro, Jane Cleland, Jordan Rosenfeld, Jeffery Somers, and Hallie Ephron, to name a few.
What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
If you’re interested in writing, sit down and get to it. Seeing your prose in print is a thrill, but the act of creating that piece of writing is the very best part of the literary life. Each day we’re gifted moments of discovery on the page as we write our way through a thought. You won’t be alone here. Arizona is a very writerly town. You’ll find writing education and a community of supportive writers in every corner of our state. Come, join us!
- Website: www.windylynnharris.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/windyharris
- Twitter: @WindyLynnHarris
- Other: Writer’s Digest Author Exchange: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WDAuthorExchange/
Roma Swenson, my husband – Darin Harris