By M.L. Ramsburg
I can still remember the day as if it were yesterday.
It was late fall, and my first story -- the first "big break," as I called it then -- was scheduled to come out in the FlipSide section of the Charleston Gazette. I don't recall now what that story was about. I'm guessing it was a commentary, as that was my specialty in those early days.
It was the first time my name was to be published on newsprint. Sure, I'd seen my name printed before, in the pages of the low budget "newspaper" I helped create at my rural K-8 Preston County school. But that had just been a four-page, photocopied and stapled newsletter. It wasn't FlipSide, the metaphorical "major league" in my 14-year-old mind.
As I reflect on it now, I see how monumental having my work accepted by FlipSide was for me. The Preston County school I attended was far outside FlipSide's coverage area. In fact, I had only happened upon the publication by chance, when visiting family members in the Charleston area.
Still, I decided to apply and was shocked when then-editor Marina Hendricks accepted my application.
So when the e-mail came -- or letter or phone call, I don't actually recall -- saying my first article had been accepted, you can bet that I was feeling more than excited.
In order to see myself in print for the first time, my parents had to make the hour drive from our Preston County home to Morgantown, the closest place to purchase the Charleston Gazette.
There I stood that fateful day, inserting quarters into the Gazette's paper box outside the Morgantown Kroger. I remember taking that first paper, my nervous hands shaking, pawing through the various sections trying to find the FlipSide page.
When I found it, I swear my heart momentarily stopped. There, sprawled under some now forgot headline, were those first bold letters: