This is the story of how I landed my first byline in Romper!
The very short version is it’s thanks to Susan Shapiro’s class, Instant Gratification Takes Too Long.
Here’s the longer version: As you might be able to guess based on the name, Sue and her class have quite the reputation for getting writers published quickly. You might remember that I took another writing class last fall, which helped me successfully pitch to the NYT. That class was at NYU with Estelle Erasmus (If you want to take a class with Estelle, which I heartily recommend, you can find the latest from her on Twitter, Instagram, or her NYU faculty profile). Several classmates from the NYU class recommended Sue’s class as a complement to Estelle’s, so I decided to go for it and signed up.
Sue’s class met live on Zoom every Wednesday in March. For me, the highlight of the class was that each week, Sue has a new slate of editors Zoom in, who let us pick their brains about pitching their publications and what kinds of stories they were open to from freelance writers like me.
A handful of editors were warm to the ideas I had during the class and since I’ve had two accepted pitches — maybe not technically instant, but pretty darn close! The first one resulted in a story for Romper, which is Bustle’s digital publication for millennial moms. I got to work with editor Meaghan O’Connell. Fun note: Meaghan is the author of And Now We Have Everything, an essay collection I loved reading when it came out in 2018.
A little background on my Romper piece itself: Both my kids inspired this story. My 3-year-old started attending a very part-time preschool this spring…and struggled with re-entry after a year at home. I know he’s not alone. I also had a feeling that the same strategies that help my autistic 5-year-old cope with everyday stimuli might help my little guy, too. Luckily, when I talked to experts, they agreed with me. This piece is all about how strategies that help neurodiverse kids feel safe and calm can help kids of all neurotypes.
By the way, I try to be very intentional about when and how I write about my kids. Respect is the rule. Another is that the writing that includes my kids in any meaningful way must be in service of shaping a world I wish for them to inhabit someday. For example, my 5-year-old has inspired me to learn so much about neurodiversity, particularly how to celebrate it and how to support it. I seek to co-create a world where acceptance and accessibility, for my son and all disabled people, are the norm. I don’t think this is only for my son or for disabled people. I believe that acceptance and accessibility benefit us all, disabled or not. This piece is a tiny nudge toward that reality: