As my gaming continued, I started buying AD&D material. But it always seemed like Mike, my best friend and partner in all things D&D, had more. He had the subscriptions to Dragon and later Dungeon magazines. He got the Forgotten Realms campaign setting (in the gray box). But I was always borrowing his stuff. I was the one who wrote to both periodicals requesting the submission guidelines. I was the one who wrote 'The Ecology of...' articles that never left my own possession.
In 1990, at the ripe old age of 16, I started submitting adventure ideas to Dungeon. Turns out, most of them weren't very good. I still think that the general plot hook that formed the basis for each of those ideas was good, but my ability to turn those plot hooks into gripping 1-2 page submission letters was sorely lacking.
And then six or eight submissions (and 18 months) later came To Win Boriscalion. TWB was a single player v. DM adventure for a 2-3 level fighter. The gist was that the fighter got a tip that the boarded-up manor on the hill was no longer being guarded by the city, effectively freeing it to be looted by whoever chose to try. The manor was the home of a merchant family who made their fortune in the lumber trade. The patriarch of the family was in possession of a sword that had a particular taste for orc blood. The orcs wouldn't attack the wielder of Boriscalion so he was able to start a logging operation in their forest; he grew wealthy and only more greedy. The family's fortunes rose and then fell, leaving nothing but the abandoned manor and a rumor of a magical sword inside.
Following that submission, the reply from Dungeon wasn't the standard rejection letter, but a letter telling me that they were interested in seeing the completed manuscript. Wow!
But why? Why try to submit anyway? Why, to be published, of course. To see my name in lights, or at least in a magazine that brought me a lot of enjoyment. And for some reason (laughable still to this day), I thought that the money was pretty exciting. "You mean to tell me that they will pay me $0.04 per word for up to 2500 words for an adventure that I'd probably write anyway? You're kidding, right?!"
Once the initial excitement wore off, it was time to get to work...