So you want to be a writer.
You've been writing for your own enjoyment for years. If you're like me, you have a dozen or more notebooks filled top to bottom with your scribblings, dating back from your teens.
At some point, though, you have to let someone actually read your stuff, unless your goal is to compile notebook after notebook for your own amusement. If that's what you want, that's okay, but why hide your light under a bushel?
Get it out there.
Is there a risk?
What'll that person, that very first person you show your work to, think?
They'll probably think it's not the best thing they've ever read, but they'll probably humor you just to be nice.
The secret is, it doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter if it sucks because you'll keep writing, and when you keep writing and keep reading really good books by really good authors, you will get better, and at some point, you'll even find your own voice.
When you do that, you know you'll really have something, and once you find your own voice, it's time to submit.
For a beginner, you might want to write some stuff for free. What this does is give you some publishing credits and build your confidence.
What this does is give you something to put in your cover letter, and gives you a link to some of your stuff for a writing sample, if they want it.
And guess what?
After you get a few things published, you'll gain some credibility, and then it's time to submit to a paying market.
Yes, this part will be scary. You'll be hounded by self-doubt, and it might even get rejected, but so what?
No one ever died of hearing the word 'no.'
Not that I've ever heard of.
On the other hand, what if you get a yes? Nothing'll make your heart soar like that. Plus, a check (or PayPal payment) for your writing, no matter how small, means you're a professional writer, just like you've always wanted to be.
In other words, you're not going to hit the ball if you don't swing at it, and a no often just means it's not right for their publication, not that it's fatally flawed, so submit it somewhere else. Over and over. And in the meantime, keep writing.
You never know.
It might be just the thing they're looking for, so go down swinging and never say die.