I am officially a published writer, again, sort of. Those who know me and have long memories may remember I had a poem published in a small (obscure) magazine back when I was living in Pittsburgh. I've been a little slow since then, but do have a short story that will be published in an upcoming issue of "Outercast." (www.outercast.com)
One of the nice things about the internet is that, while many if not most of the short story magazines that used to dot the literary landscape have gone extinct, this niche is now being filled by the internet. There are a number of zines (or alternatively small press magazines with an e-presence) on the web that now publish short stories in much the same vein as the old magazines - and for just about as much payment.
My story will be appearing in a future issue - though I can't tell you which one yet. I submitted it for the most recent issue, but it was close to the deadline and they just ran out of room. But the editor liked it, so he's holding onto it for a future issue. He's also encouraged me to submit another story for the next issue. This is just as important, if not more so, than the actual first sale. Getting an editor, even for an out of the way publication, to print your stuff more than once let's future editors, agents, (maybe even publishers?) know you're not just a one hit wonder.
Like I said, it doesn't pay much, though I can claim publication again. Something that pays better and a bit more regularly is my work for the Shanghai Daily (www.shanghaidaily.com). I am freelancing a column for them and it's become almost a weekly item. The columns are short, about 600 words, and opinion items only. (I don't want a career as a journalist - columnist would be okay, as how can you turn down a job where you write once a week and get paid for pretty much not doing a whole lot the rest of the week?) I got that job through a former student (I think) of a friend of mine who is working at the paper.
The only qualification is my contact mostly picks and chooses the topic, though I have been able to suggest a few of my own a bit more now that I've done a few for them. This has allowed me to actually list "writer" as my occupation on recent forms, however, which I have to admit feels pretty good.
I haven't given up on teaching, by the way, as I still enjoy that tremendously. More importantly, teaching pays the bills a lot better, or at least it will when I start teaching again. But in the meantime, and on the side, it's nice to be able to claim some income from the written word.