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Featured Client: Dwight Hilson

Meet our featured client, Dwight Hilson! As a recovering businessperson, Dwight once owned a video and DVD publishing company that produced and distributed over a thousand titles. After years of entrepreneurial success, a midlife crisis ensued. But rather than buy a flashy red sports car, Dwight decided to study for his Master of Arts in Writing at Manhattanville College in New York. And always the glutton for punishment, he then earned his MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Dwight’s short fiction and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in The Alembic, Sanskrit, The Coe Review, Colere, The Chaffin Journal, The Valparaiso Fiction Review, and others. Watch Dwight’s video and read on to learn more about how working with Writer’s Relief helped him move from awkward writing newbie to confident published author.

 

In Dwight Hilson’s Own Words

I was introduced to Writer’s Relief early in 2008, just over a year after entering the Master of Writing program at Manhattanville College.

Returning to the academic world after a twenty-five-year, mostly successful business career was awkward, to say the least. So many young people, cheery and optimistic; and professors, too, who’d mastered subjects I’d never considered.  Nonetheless, the dean and founder of our writing program, Sister Ruth Dowd, was adamant from my first interview that my goal should be to be published. I concurred even though I couldn’t then say exactly what that meant—hell, I didn’t yet know if I had the talent to craft a readable story.

After a year of study and writing, though, I did, and that’s when the director of our program suggested I check out Writer’s Relief. YES, I thought, an organization dedicated to helping writers find acceptance, an audience, maybe even a future book deal. Then, of course, I read that I needed to apply and send a writing sample to be accepted into the service. Ugh…the threat of rejection. All aspiring writers are told, even encouraged, to accept rejection, embrace it — because, really, you don’t have a choice. But that doesn’t make it any easier, not at the start anyway.

Long story short: Writer’s Relief said come aboard, and I’ve been both grateful and loyal ever since.

Those early submission rounds were unnerving—the rejections coming fast and furious, and very impersonal. But then I started to receive some rejections with handwritten notes, encouragement, even suggestions on how to improve the story, and, perhaps best of all, invitations to send them more of my work. Okay, not the same as an acceptance, but we’ll take what we can get.

But then I was accepted! My first published story! Yeah, I ordered a couple dozen copies of the journal, but what the hell. Other acceptances followed, even multiple acceptances for the same story! When one of my favorite stories was accepted by a Midwest college journal, I emailed to order copies and the editor wrote back: “We received over 400 submissions and yours rose to the top.” Yes, of course I printed out that response, might even frame it!

Over the past eight years I’ve had well over a dozen acceptances of my short fiction and poems, and I can honestly say none of it would’ve been possible without Writer’s Relief. I can’t say that I truly “embrace” rejection, but with every cycle I receive important feedback and, recently, regular good news. I’m a writer, I work hard, and I’ve got a lot more to say.

More About Dwight Hilson

With two novel drafts near completion, Dwight is looking forward to experiencing a whole new level of rejection—and ultimately, success! His creative work has also been published or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, The MacGuffin, RiverSedge, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and other well-known literary magazines.

Find out more about Dwight at his website.

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