In My Big Little Break, we ask authors to talk about the first piece they ever had published, how it felt to finally break through, and what they’ve learned since then. This week we’re pleased to be speaking with one of the featured authors at our upcoming (getting close to sold out) conference outside DC on April 27, Gabino Iglesias.
1. What was the title and genre of your first-ever published piece?
First thing I ever had published was a short story titled "La Flor" (The Flower). There was a gun in it, but I guess it was literary fiction.
2. Who published it? Are they still around?
El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico's largest newspaper, published it. It won third place in a national short story contest. It's only around on microfiche and the copy I kept, I guess. Haha.
3. Give us some context: how old were you? How long had you been writing and submitting? How many times had the piece been rejected? Anything else we're missing.
I was probably 22. I'd been writing for years. I had won a poetry contest. I had never sent out a short story before. There aren't many markets back home. That means it had zero rejections! It gave me a confidence boost. A few years later I moved to the US, switched languages, and started from scratch. You know, because this gig is so easy I had to go and make it a little harder on myself...
4. Did getting that acceptance feel as triumphant as you'd always hoped? Walk us through the moment when you found out.
It did/n't. It felt good, but also made me nervous. A lot of people were going to read my word. It was a call to action. I'd been writing for years. Now I had a short story win third place in a competition and published in the country's largest newspaper. It was time to start writing more seriously.
5. Are you still proud of that piece? Have you re-read it recently?
I am. I haven't read it in years. It dealt with suicide and carrying on. I wanted to say something about the importance of pushing through, and I managed to do so despite lacking talent and practice.
6. Now that you've been doing this for a while, collecting plenty of rejections and acceptances along the way, what advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Start earlier and be fearless! Every rejection means an opportunity to fix/rewrite something. Don't let rejections get you down. And celebration for each piece accepted should be short because there's a lot of work to do.
Gabino Iglesias is the author of ZERO SAINTS and COYOTE SONGS. He is a book reviewer for NPR, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Criminal Element, and other venues as well as the book reviews editor for PANK Magazine.