My First Byline

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


We remember all of our memorable firsts: first job (McDonalds where the best part was the free food at break), first car (grey chevy chevette that swayed through every rain and wind storm), first kiss (Grade 6 with Billy Pratt- a little wet and sloppy), first birth (exhilarated and exhausted after pushing Megan with all my might down my birth canal for two hours), first concert (Eagles in Toronto where security found fruit in our purses instead of the drugs they were searching for), first book I reread (“Are You There God It’s Me Margaret” – every reading literally got me through my adolescence).  If you have a writer’s soul like me, you will always remember your first byline.  I remember mine like it was yesterday, yet it was many years ago, November 28, 1998, to be exact.

I was working at a job at that time that I didn’t enjoy at all, so decided to spend part of my day doing something that would bring me joy.  I have always been a voracious non-fiction reader and often read several books a week.  Biographies, memoirs, and other life stories were my preferred genre.  I was a truth seeker, interested in learning how people became who they are and other informative and interesting tales.  With such a keen interest in so many subjects, I also discovered at that time that I had stories that I wanted to share, so started writing about topics of interest to me, including personal finance, relationships, and mostly travel.  My workday became so much more bearable and pleasant on the days that I could close my office door and fill my blank pages with interesting words and factual stories. 

Tremblant was a ski resort that my husband and I had discovered when there was just a single chalet. We had returned many times to witness it become a boisterous village, after Intrawest purchased it and had the same vision for it that they had for their other grandiose developments throughout Canada and the U.S.A.  I had followed its phenomenal growth and it was a story that I knew intimately and wanted to tell. 

Back in those days, if you wanted to get published, you wrote the story or article first and then submitted it to the editors of the various newspapers and magazines.  The Globe and Mail had an extensive travel section, and it was also the only Toronto newspaper that was circulated throughout Canada.  It was a writer’s dream to have an article featured in the Globe and Mail.

After writing my travel article about Tremblant, I submitted it to several travel editors, including Victor from the Globe and Mail.  About a week after submitting it, I got an email back from Victor advising me that he may be interested.  He asked me where all I had been published and, at that time, I hadn’t yet sold a single article, so I had to confess to him that I didn’t yet have a byline.  I told him that whatever I lacked in experience, and proof of publication, I made up for in knowledge and subject matter expertise, and that I would happily make any necessary changes to the article that he wanted.  He said he would think about it and get back to me.  I left our conversation practically pleading with him at how much it would mean to me if he took a chance on me and published my Tremblant article.  After waiting anxiously for several days, Victor emailed me back, simply saying “Yeah, I’ll take it”.  I would find out all the details, after exchanging several additional emails back and forth with him.  He didn't ask me to change one word. 

On Saturday morning, November 28, 1998, I woke up early and walked briskly to our neighborhood variety store as soon as it opened.  I flipped through the first Globe and Mail newspaper, to the travel section, and couldn’t believe my eyes.  My Tremblant article had made the front page along with two other ski destinations.  I decided to buy the entire stack of newspapers.  As I carried the enormous bundle to the cashier, and many pages that were now falling out of my arms, the cashier looked at me curiously.  I rummaged through as quick as I could to the travel section, to show the cashier my published article.  She continued to look at me annoyed, completely disinterested, and unimpressed, and simply told me how much money I owed and asked how I planned to carry her entire supply of newspapers out of her store.  I didn’t let her lack of enthusiasm get me down.  I was on cloud nine.  I was an author and had my first byline.  I grabbed every paper, cradled them in my arms like a previous baby, trying desperately not to drop any.  I alternated between skipping and running all the way home and never dropped a single paper. My prized possession would become invaluable to me.

I continued to write and sell non-fiction stories and articles to various newspapers and magazines for the next several years, thanks to that first byline in the Globe and Mail.  When my family and full-time career required more of my focus, I took an extensive hiatus from writing.  We tend to always return to our passions, and I returned to writing after I semi-retired from my career a few years ago.  I also believe that many of our passions lead to our life callings.  Writing is a passion that I love to do, always find my way back to, and can't seem to live without.  I published my first book this year titled “Evolving: My Lessons of Self-Discovery” and I have started a Blog.  I am blessed to have a writer’s soul, with many more stories within me, that I know I must write, and can't wait to share.Stay tuned for more bylines.


Submitted: August 28, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Denise Svajlenko. All rights reserved.

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