Chuck Palahniuk was first published in Modern Short Stories, August, 1990. He was 28 years old.
The story is called Negative Reinforcement, and it’s got the trademark Palahniuk voice, if a little rough in places. It shows that Chuck was refining his work, over six years before his first novel, Fight Club was published in 1996. It takes a while.
To quote Ira Glass:
“The most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Note: Modern Short Stories is a defunct publication, now.