When I first decided to change careers to writing, I asked a few professionals for advice. One person told me not to over look my local neighborhood paper because everyone has to start somewhere.
Then I took a class taught by Sue Shapiro on writing for NYC Newspapers and Magazines at mediabistro. After finding out what the first assignment was (personal essay with specific criteria), I spent 24 hours wailing about how I suck and couldn't think of anything (poor HA, for having to listen to me). Then an idea dawned on me and HA had to listen to me go on about my great idea. Then I started writing it and HA had to go back to hearing how much I suck. Rinse and repeat.
I took the first draft to class and Sue said this was exactly the sort of thing Editor X loves for column Y. I rewrote and brought my piece back in because I felt it wasn't quite there yet. After that round, I sent it to Editor X, already planning on sending it to a different publication when it got rejected and wondering where I'd send it when Editor #2 said no.
I sent it our on a Wednesday night. I was constantly nervous and jittery on Thursday because what if he actually bought it? Rejection I can handle, but success freaks me the fuck out. For some reason, I went out drinking Thursday night and was hung over on Friday, managing to get my work done, but not really having any extra energy to indulge my artistic temperament.
And, of course, that's when Editor X called to say he wanted to run my essay.
And so I have my first published piece (since college, lo those many years ago) in a little local paper called The New York Times.
'Scuse me while I try to stop squee-ing.
*with apologies and thanks to Adrienne Martini.