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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Getting Published

I often joke that I've never had a real job. I started down the self-employment path in high school, and apart from a handful of part-time jobs in college, that's what it's been for more than twenty years for me.

When I got back from Ireland in 1981, my friend Matt introduced me to a game that had become all the rage in the 6th grade while I was away: Dungeons & Dragons. This wonderful game was like gasoline on the creative flames that Irish castles and history books had kindled, and led to a lot of my adolescence being spent writing up fantastic adventures for the imaginary heroes my brother and neighborhood friends made up. Around the age 14, it dawned upon me that I was putting quite a lot of time into this hobby, and I wondered if I could find a way to make money from doing it as well.

(I'd always had an interest in business. Sometime under age 10 I devised a plan to buy bulk bubble gum balls from the grocery store up the street and sell them individually to kids on our block. Despite a mathematically sound business plan, this venture failed to turn a profit. I eventually realized that my little brother and business partner was eating the inventory...)

I learned about freelance writing and submitting articles and stories to magazines, and realized that one advantage of submitting manuscripts by mail to strangers is that the people reading them can't know that you're not old enough to shave.

I worked hard, took the many inevitable rejections in stride, and learned everything I could from the helpful suggestions of editors to improve my work. When requested, I revised and resubmitted material. The perseverence paid off – not long before my 16th birthday, I got my first acceptance letter and a contract to buy one of my articles. The article appeared in print in April 1986, and I was officially a professional writer.


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