Writing Pad student Kit Rich took Taffy Brodesser-Akner's women's magazine class and wound up with her piece "At 17, I Never Thought My Life Would Turn Out Like This" published on the pages of SELF Magazine. We recently got in touch to get the nitty-gritty on how she made it happen.
You landed a piece in a national women's magazine – a huge accomplishment! Had you been published previously?
I had been featured in almost every fitness and health magazine imaginable but never as a writer. I was featured as a trainer and for my fitness ideas. So it was incredibly exciting to be in the same magazine that I had always been in as a trainer, but now as a writer. I'm also the fitness writer for an online magazine called Beautylish. Actually the first piece I ever wrote in Taffy's two day personal essay class was published online at The Beauty Bean. The editor from Beautylish saw the piece and I was hired to write for them weekly.
What did you learn about the publishing process?
It takes a long time and a lot of patience! You also have to not take anything personally. What you think might be your brilliant line in your article could just be fluff to the editors, so be willing to let go of the article once it’s in the editor’s hands. But honestly, it was so thrilling to have top of the line editors looking at and working on my piece. It was humbling really. I learned a lot of what works and what doesn’t. I also learned to just get to the point.
She was very good at helping me understand the message I was trying to convey. Once I understood where I was going with the article, it was much easier to figure out what came in between the beginning and end. She also has a way of realizing your writing habits that don’t serve you. She pointed them out for me and it has really helped me since. But honestly, I don’t feel I am giving her enough praise. She is inspiring, passionate, and truly cares about each and every student she teaches. She wants everyone to succeed, and it is very clear when taking her class. She creates a nurturing environment where everyone has the freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and do it with no judgement attached.
How long after the class did Self accept your essay?
They actually accepted before the class was done. I believe it was published only 4 months later!
Any tips for pitching to a women's mag?
Patience! I am trying to get more articles published and it definitely isn’t as easy as the first time. But I won’t give up. The feeling of getting that “yes” overrides all doubt, lack of patience, and insecurity.
Oh man, do we understand that feeling! Thanks for chatting with us, Kit.
If you have a story you're dying to tell – and really, who doesn't? – Taffy Brodesser-Akner is the best person to help you hone in on your message AND the publications it's best suited for. There are three upcoming Writing Pad classes with Taffy aimed at getting your essay published: You in 1200 Words: Writing and Publishing the Personal Essay beginning March 3rd, the Personal Essay Clinic on March 18th, and What Do You Think? Writing the Op-Ed or Cultural Essay on March 21st and 28th. Sign up today and look forward to having your essay published in no time!