Next Avenue Published My Essay!

My mother in her Happy Place, Olbrich Gardens.

While I was pursuing my Big MFA Adventure, learning to write a commercially-publishable book and build my platform to resemble that of a commercially-publishable author, we were encouraged to submit for publication. It didn’t matter what we submitted–book reviews, articles peeled from our book research, personal essays. The goal was a byline.

As a result, starting in late 2018 at the beginning of my second MFA year, I undertook a “100 Rejections Project.” Simply put, you celebrate rejections as necessary steps on the way to your dreams.

I began studying what kinds of small magazines (print or online) published the kinds of things I like to write. I began submitting–book reviews, articles peeled from my book research, personal essays. And guess what! I got more acceptances than rejections! Here we are 2-1/2 years later, and I still haven’t hit 100 Rejections yet.

My biggest “win” occurred a few weeks ago when a personal essay was accepted by Next Avenue, a national journalism service offering news, advice, information, and stories curated for people over 50, produced by Twin Cities PBS (TPT). This is “big” not just because of the reach of the platform (over 70 million!), but because it was my first personal essay to be published.

The essay incubated in me for more than a year, then spilled out in an hour on New Year’s Day. I read it to my First Monday, First Person group, and liked how it felt. I decided to submit it to the New York Times Well section and to Next Avenue. Never heard back from the New York Times, but immediately received a reply from the Next Avenue Health and Caregiving editor.

“I like the essay a lot. Would you consider adding a couple of expert voices to it?” A couple of phone calls, a couple of hours weaving in the interviews, chase down a photo… look Ma, I’m a Journalist! Published in a national platform! Which is really a family tribute, because my mother and father were freelance journalists, published in national magazines, in their day.

And now, without further ado, I invite you to read:

In Life’s Last Chapter, What Matters? A Room With a View.

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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1 Response to Next Avenue Published My Essay!

  1. Hello Sarah Congratulations on your work published. Your article resonated with me having just lost both my parents. I grieved for months that I couldn’t visit, as much because they were company starved in a gloomy flat at the back of a block. The quality of life for so many elderly has been much impaired by Covid, even without symptoms.


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