Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: The Journey

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A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire...


Career Change

I worked at a government job, and from my second-story window I could see the door of a magazine publisher.

During my one of my lunch breaks I passed a woman walking along the street. She looked familiar. But when I thought more about it, I realized she was the editor from the magazine (outside my window) I so admired. Her headshot - with a contemplative expression - featured next to her editor’s letters, graced the monthly issues.

I wanted to write for that magazine. But I convinced myself the timing was all wrong to try something new. You see, I had health coverage, a pension, a husband in graduate school, and a baby on the way.

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

Fast forward a few years later . . . As a stay-at-home mom I wrote for enjoyment, polished-up friends’ resumes, wrote a bio for an artist, and even edited a government document, all for free, unless I count a cappuccino as payment from my artist friend.

I had devoted many hours helping others with writing-related projects. Maybe I could really become published. After all, my former boss told me if I ever decided to choose a different career, I should consider one of a literary nature. It was the biggest complement I’d ever received.

I decided to go for it.

I checked out a book at the local library about how to write a query letter. I read blog posts on the subject. I learned the industry’s protocol: Submit queries to publications I read, devise a brilliant hook, address editors by his or her names (correctly spelled), and remember to say thank you. And of course, know how to write a compelling article backed with accurate facts and interviewed sources.

I emailed a query letter to an editor who worked for the magazine located across the street from my former government job.

My idea was rejected.

Squeezed between carpools and bedtime stories I queried other editors. During that time I wrote articles for online magazines and blogs. Even though I didn’t get paid, I gained experience.

After eight months of continuous rejections to paying publications, I received a yes. Actually, my husband and I were both assigned the piece since the angle of my query focused on forgiveness in marriage. Luckily, my husband is a good writer and good at forgiving, and we worked on it together.

The month following our published piece we received a check.

“Don’t even try to figure out our hourly rate,” my husband said.

We both laughed and used the money to take our daughter out for pizza.

I’ve never thanked my former boss for the compliment. She released me to do what she must have known I wanted to do all along. And for that I thank her.


Join our After Page One series. We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude. The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio so readers can learn more about you and your projects.


Heather Villa is a former cartographer who told stories with maps before she became a mother and freelance writer. Her byline has appeared in The Writer, among others. She loves the intersection between reality and fiction. For more information visit or say hello on Twitter @HeatherVilla1.

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