I still remember the first time I saw my name in print. It was the spring of my freshman year in high school, and I submitted an essay on the Major League Baseball strike to a Los Angeles Times column, "My Turn," that featured work by local teenagers. As I carefully stashed multiple copies in my drawer, I tried to wrap my 15-year-old head around the notion that people were dropping quarters into newspaper dispensers and coming away with my photograph and byline.
That first publication probably gives a high to anyone, whether they're 15 or 55. But the intoxication may wear off as soon as a few realities set in: that most authors are not rich or well-known outside a select audience; that even successful authors go through the process of having work rejected and hammering out multiple drafts; and that after you've seen your name in print a few times, it means little unless you truly believe in the work attached to it.