I’d just gotten home after a long flight from Arizona, and I was in no mood to read the mail. Despite the fact that most scholarship and application deadlines have passed, many colleges have continued to accost me. Sifting through mail from schools I’ve never heard of just isn’t worth it.
“You got something huge,” my mother told me, returning from the mailbox. “What’s Teen Ink?”
I frowned, searching my memory. “This site I signed up for a really long time ago. Then I switched to inkpop and didn’t end up going back. What do they want?”
She handed me a packet that was – as she’d said – huge. I’d estimate that it was around 12” by 18” – and I had no idea what it was. I opened it quickly – assuming it was some kind of mistake – and out fell a copy of the magazine.
“That’s weird,” I said. “I never subscribed to them.”
Then I noticed another paper of regular size, lost in the expansive envelope. I tugged it out and read “Dear Published Contributor, Congratulations on being published in the December issue of Teen Ink magazine…”
“What is it?” my mother asked.
“Um,” I said, completely confused, “they seem to have made a mistake. They say they’ve published me. But I never put anything up on the site. I was only there for like five minutes.”
I spent the next few minutes looking through the magazine, never finding my name. Clearly, this had all been a very big mix up. Then I checked the cover – January issue. I’d been published – or they thought I’d been published, at least – in the December issue.
After digging through old papers to find my password scrawled across the back of an index card, I logged on to the website. To my surprise, I had one work listed, although I’d never uploaded it. One of my least favorite poems, listed as a part of the December magazine. Huh?
Finally – perhaps I was being a little slow, but I’d just sat on an airplane for hours, so I wasn’t at my best – I remembered. Long ago – I’m talking March or April – I sent a few poems and a short story off to Teen Ink. Not through the internet, but over mail. As months passed, I assumed they’d rejected me and never bothered to send a note. After almost a year, I’d forgotten the whole episode. Apparently they had not, and submissions have a long shelf life at Teen Ink magazine.
Staring at the little ‘MAG’ label next to my poem online, I slowly realized something both exciting and rather alarming.
In the loosest sense of the word, I am now a published author.