What does one do with a short story?

I wrote a story.  What now?  I am clearly new at this game and writing short fiction is not something I thought I would ever really be interested in as I have taught them for years and recognize that a tight, good story would be, for me, much harder to write than a novel.  I also took a lone creative writing class in college in which I was required to produce a story; I hated it, both the story and the writing of it.  I remember it being really hard, and as a nineteen year old English major, really hard work was not at the top of my priority list.

I wrote a god-awful piece that still makes me cringe.  We were supposed to write about something we knew, and it also had to say something.  Perfect.  Having grown up in a relatively small town, with a relatively uneventful childhood, I had neither the maturity nor the experience to look at my life and understand that virtually any event could fit these requirements.  So I wrote an unfocused piece about a backpacking trip though I did manage to include a not so subtle statement on the environment in it; it failed miserably (which I knew) but my professor still gleefully (to me) let me know all its faults.  I decided at the ripe old age of nineteen that fiction was far too hard and not for me.  I probably should have written a story on how much pressure I put on myself to do everything well, including writing fiction.  But you know what they say about hindsight . . .

Following that experience, any aspirations I had to write short stories went on a shelf.  But then the muses struck again, and by the time I got out of bed this past Saturday morning, I had a whole little story plotted in my head.  I jotted half of it down in my notebook while my daughter was warming up for her soccer game.  And then I jotted the second half down after we got home from the game. I completed a short story . . . and even better, I like it!

It was fun to actually complete a piece of writing.  I think I’ll probably write more of them, especially if they come to me complete and lovely as this one did.  Now I just need to figure out what to do with it.  Do I submit it to a contest?  To a magazine?  A publisher?  What does one do with a 2300 word story?  Do I need to write five more before I do anything?  I guess I’ll have to research that to find out.  Or if anyone out there has any grand ideas, let me know.  But even if nothing comes of this story, it’s nice to have a completed piece in my “writing portfolio.”