How I published my first essay

So, a pretty amazing thing happened this week.

Original Illustration by  Giselle Potter

Original Illustration by Giselle Potter

On Monday, 8/21, the first essay I ever wrote for serious consideration in the publishing world was featured as an exclusive story on the Longreads website

The essay I originally called "Swimming Lessons" is all about my ten years as a swim instructor. It's centered around one summer when I taught a little boy named Jacob. To this day, Jacob remains one of the most difficult students I ever taught to swim. He was so afraid of the water. He's one of my proudest accomplishments because when we met, both he and his mother had all but given up on his ability to learn. 

Writing this piece, which I started over a year ago, was a cathartic, exhilarating, and maddening experience all at the same time. The idea came to me when I decided to apply to Creative Nonfiction magazine's "How We Teach" edition. It got several rejections from other publications and editors before Sari Botton at Longreads finally accepted it. The essay has gone through several iterations and many drafts since then. I am grateful to my classmates and instructor from my Catapult class who workshopped it for me. 

I am very, very proud of this piece. It feels especially fitting that it should be my first published essay. It's taught me a lot about perseverance and patience, and how, as a writer, if you really believe in a story, you shouldn't give up on it. Somewhere out there is an editor who will like it - you just need to keep searching until you find them.