The Swan Princess; or, Getting Published

At the end of this post is one of my published pieces, as requested. Though I am not sure why it was requested, here it is. I have been published twice in my life: once in an anthology and the other in a writing magazine. The piece is from issue #8 of Material magazine. I haven’t tried to get anything published since then, but perhaps I should. I know for first-time writers, it can be nerve-wracking to try and get in to traditional publishing.

I mentioned being published last post (or maybe the post before) and a few of you did get in touch to ask how to get published. I’m by no means an expert, but I do have some advice for you.

Submit. Find publishers and magazines that work for you. Some will have a specialty, and you should use that to your advantage. Sites like duotropes list the publishers who are accepting and what they’re looking for. Bookmark some magazines you think are relevant.

And you have to write. Write when you can. Get up an hour earlier and write the moment you wake up. Describe your commute to work or create a history for the person you sit next to on the bus. Everything can be used and inspiration is everywhere. I know this sounds pretentious, but I find it to be true. Writing it important and so is editing. Show your work to people and ask for comments and corrections. A new pair of eyes can be very useful.

For novels and big publishing houses, it’s worth getting an agent first. They know how to handle the delicacies of negotiation, and they’re far more experienced than you’ll ever be. All agents want different things from you, so be sure to check on their sites for information. Some want 50 pages and a cover letter, some only want the first chapter and proof of previous publishing experience.

This is all I can tell you. I did a creative writing degree. I would recommend you do courses and degrees to finesse your craft. I distrust people who don’t like creative writing degrees, and I would hope my readers have more respect for my university career than to think it’s a waste of time.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post. It was short, but I thank you for your time.

Let me ask you: have you ever been published? Do you have any want to? And what’s the greatest thing you’ve ever read from a newcomer?

Let me know your thoughts.

And as promised… The Swan Princess. Enjoy.

***

The snow swirled in the centre of his hand, whipping around her spinning form. She was encased in glass and dust, but the eternal ballerina danced on. She was his precious Prima Donna, clothed in flowing white and frozen in her pirouette, surrounded by an ensemble of swans. Her painted face was faded and chipped from years spent in the window being beaten by the sunlight, but her smile was still as vivid as the first time he set eyes on her.

That had been decades ago, back when his hands didn’t tremble at the effort of holding the snow-globe to the light. Some years ago, the tinny music had become silent, but she danced on as though she could hear it.

He remembered the song with a fond heart and a weary smile. It was the melody that pulsed through his veins, and the tempo that his frail heart still beat to; he remembered the first time they had danced to it, nearly seven decades ago. It had been the night they had met, at a dance hall in London. She was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen. It was her eyes that drew him in; an ethereal, frosted blue set in snow white skin. She was a glacial perfection, with a heart-melting smile. The minute he met her, he never wanted to look away again.

She had wanted to be a dancer. When the subject arose, it was though her entire body had been breathed full of new life. She would talk for hours about her favourite shows: La Sacre du Printemps, The Nutcracker, and the crème de la crème of her ballets, Swan Lake. It was at that show, a month in to their courtship, that he had bought her the snow-globe.

She loved the snow-globe with all her heart.

And he loved her with all of his. His Swan Princess.

Dance of the Swans was their song. It was their first dance; their wedding song; her funeral march. It was the song they played in her dying moments, the tinny snow-globe playing the final harp strings of the swan’s dying song.

It wouldn’t play after that night.

Now his nights were filled with silence. Sometimes, he heard the echo of a distant ballroom, and saw the phantoms of dancers who waltzed on air. He smelled her shampoo and soap, heard her girlish giggle, and it was as though she were in their room beside him, laughing about the things they used to laugh about. He closed his eyes, wishing for the waltz one more time.
It wouldn’t come. Not yet.
Outside the window, the snow began falling, like pure white feathers of a swan to the ground.

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About Stephanie Gallon

I'm 22 years old with first class honours in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. I'm currently studying MA English Studies. I'm an author, a blogger, and a zealot of all things written. I write on everything from comics, to feminism, to advice on university life.
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