Does this mean I’m a ‘real’ writer?

Being a writer is a form of self-punishment fueled by a consistent barrage of rejection and self-doubt. The key word here is ‘consistent.’ After visions of grandeur and being rejected by all national publications for over a decade, something finally hit. Except I didn’t submit this article to TIME magazine, and this article is old—written in 2017, previously published in ScaryMommy, a popular blog—because I haven’t written anything good since I went back to school over three years ago to “become a writer.” It turns out that seeking to further my education and build on my existing skills at my age is like accidentally hitting the reset button and then, poof. Just like that, a lifetime of know-how vanishes as you are relegated to starting from scratch, like tearing down a perfectly good house only to rebuild it with a bunch of inexperienced Gen-Z’ers to be exactly the same house. When this is all over, hopefully I’ll at least come out with an upgraded skill-saw.

The TIME publishers contacted me in December of 2020 saying they saw my article on the ScaryMommy blog, which I had titled, “How to talk to your girls about body image.” The TIME people asked me if they could re-publish it in one of their upcoming special issues. Um. They’re asking me? At first, I thought it was a scam, but after checking out the publishing company online, it turns out, it was legit. Here it is, months later, actually in print and on shelves across the nation anywhere magazines are sold between April 12 and July 12, 2021. It’s also available through Amazon, too, where the description says, “In this special edition from the editors of TIME, current trends, expert advice and personal experiences come together to offer a practical guide for living as your best and healthiest self.” I’m the personal experiences they’re talking about! I had a friend say she saw the issue at an airport. I mean, come on!

They retitled the article, “How I talked to my daughter-and myself-about body image.” It tackles important social issues surrounding body-image for young girls, their mothers, and women at large. It offers research on how mothers can not only help stop the cycle of negative body image in their young daughters, but also how moms as women themselves can work to improve their own body-image. I was surprised that the editors changed very little, except for the title, which is amazing considering this thing magically ejected itself out of me in a matter of days, rather than the weeks and months I can work on something that never sees the light of day. It looks pretty spiffy in its new home, complete with updated statistics and accompanying photos across an eight-page spread; eight pages of my words about how we can reframe our own body images as mothers, in order to help our girls have everything we never had—confidence and self-esteem with an unwavering sense of worth—in a frickn’ national publication.

National, however, is relative. ScaryMommy didn’t pay me a dime to publish this article back in 2017. At that point I didn’t bother submitting it anywhere else, because who am I to think I’m a real writer—whatever that even means. It just felt nice to have something potentially helpful to others on a popular blog. That insignificant moment of exposure was the catalyst for me starting this website, but in the end, it amounted to nothing. Just another piece out in the ether to be forgotten about in less than 24-hours as I somehow muster the motivation to carry on.

But, actually, something did happen. Putting that article out there for free to anyone who would have it resulted in this new, unexpected outcome. TIME found it while searching for essayist content about the body-image topic. They saw something in this piece, or maybe they were just hard-up for content. Either way, I’m doing my part to keep print alive. At $250 to sign away my rights to the piece, I may never make real money being a real writer, but now at least I know that if I don’t succumb to emotional eating, day drinking and the intense feelings of failure as a 47-year-old student who dreams of being a writer, maybe I could.

Sneak peek at the article here:

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