I'd sent stuff out a few times before. The very first effort was "The Library Murders" when I was 15, which I sent to Women's World Weekly on the recommendation of a family friend, without reading (or knowing where to find) the guidelines or sending an SASE. I made a nearly-good effort (sent two stories out at the same time after pouring over The Writer's Market!) in... '98 or '99 (complete with a very poor cover letter, because the advice in that edition was... not helpful. I sent a cover letter appropriate to non-fiction free-lancer). Two rejections later, and I gave up, until I entered a bunch of contests for no reason that seems good to me now.
And then, I got my head out of my bum and went for it. Not a little bit of the reason was because splash_the_cat and roane were doing that very thing, and showed me the way. So, a big thanks to those ladies, no question!
Seven years. Not so long, in the grand scheme of things... incredibly long in the short-term. I've missed out on some fun things for writing, I've given up gaming, I've ditched grad school twice, and I've several times stopped myself from getting a second job so I could have nicer things. For writing, I read less than I'd like to, snap at my family more than I'd like to, and have a much filthier house than I'd like to. But at the same time, I've met a lot of fine people, I've worked through a lot of my issues more fully than therapy would get me, and I've had a whole lot of fun, both in my head and at workshops, conventions, and retreats.
It is not coincidental that tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of my 28th birthday, either.
Since then, I've sold fifteen short stories, a bunch of reprints, and three books--two of which I haven't written yet. I've gotten into a year's best anthology, had numerous audio adaptations made of my shorts--and over two hundred rejections. For every success, there's been at least a month of self-doubt; for every sale, there are about a dozen rejections. I get a lot of joy from writing, but keeping the misery out of it is hard work, harder than the writing itself. Other writers know this. (So do the people who live with me.) All told, it has required more patience than I thought I possessed.
It definitely beats not knowing what I want to do with my life.
And, for me, grad school.
If I had it to do all over again? Knowing what I know now? All of that? I'd write more, and fret less. I'd worry less about when the world was going to recognize my jeeeen-yus. I'd have more patience with my writing, and less with my self-doubts. More patience with the advancement of my career, less with my whining.
But, other than that--no. Wouldn't change a thing.
Onward, to the next seven.