If you look over to the right (No, no, not there. Keep looking till you find the HALL OF FAME. Those are links to places where you can read stuff by yours truly), you'll notice the Neumann News. That's a paper published by Saint John Neumann parish. At least, it was published. I've just returned from a meeting and the times, they are a-changin'.
I have a soft spot in my writing heart for the good old Neumann News. When my pen started stirring again after so many years, it was to the NN that I sent my first story. I didn't know if my little Christmas essay would make it into the paper. I waited and waited till the December edition came out, tore through the pages, and there on the very last page was my piece about Advent traditions in the Hall house! I picked up extra copies and sent them to loved ones, whether they cared to get a copy or not. (Mostly, they did not.)
Ah, vanity. My name in print...that was all it took to get me hooked. I went to the next meeting and found out that anyone who sent in something legible would be published. They were lucky to fill the paper's pages. Still, even with the bloom a little (okay, a lot) off the rose, I stayed through the meeting and agreed to write something for the January issue. That was five years ago.
Now I write every day, sending my stories out way beyond the corners of my little newspaper's world. But that's how it started. Maybe you wannabe writers following along out there can start on your Road to Publication with a paper like the Neumann News. Because there's nothing like regular practice to get you in the writing habit. And a small paper is always appreciative of any talent willing to work for free. No, you won't make a Fortune, but you will be famous. At least, in your neighborhood.
I hope our church paper will keep plugging away. There could be an Ernest Hemingway or Dorothy Parker out there right now, contemplating a story and wondering where to send it. I happen to know a great place to start.