Five submissions in three days! That’s what I did with my creative writing stuff. I feel really excited about it, about finally taking the plunge and committing a large amount of time and effort to getting my stories out there for publishing consideration.
I’ve submitted my newest short story “Favorite Pets” to two different literary magazines, one of which I am a very big fan of as it is (Shimmer)… and I submitted a hard-to-categorize essay I wrote many years ago and recently cleaned up to two other magazines. Yesterday, thanks to Jen’s encouragement, I also submitted an essay on “how I met my dog” to Modern Dog magazine! I plan to write two more shorter essays for MD, too, so I submit a total of three. I’m on a roll and there’s no sign of stopping now. In fact, the act of doing these submissions apparently woke me up somehow and now I want to write a lot more short pieces as I still work on my book.
The thing is, if I’m going to land an agent sometime, I need to have some of my fiction published someplace. And short, creative pieces online are a fantastic place to start. (Well, only one of the 5 magazines I submitted to so far is online-only; they rest are both print and digital. But still. I’m starting small! Except for the Modern Dog one… that’s kind of big.)
I found an excellent list of 47 literary magazines for science fiction and speculative fiction, and I cut it in half to handle it in chunks. What I have been doing is methodically clicking through each link, checking to see if the publication is even still around (sometimes they shut down), or accepting submissions at all. I also read some of their published pieces to get a feel for the kind of stories in each one, because they all have different tones, themes and styles. It’s time consuming to sort through all of this to find the correct places for my stories. And finally, there are the submission processes themselves: Some want .doc attachments, some want you to paste the story into the body of an email; some insist on Courier as a font, and have very specific rules about the headers and footers on each page. Some require you to create an account on their site– this is a good thing, because it allows you to log in and find out if your story has been read yet or not– and that can take time, too. And a couple of sites ask you to pay a “reading fee” when you submit your story. Mostly, this is for contests, but it’s still kind of bullshit. It’s never a whole lot of money, like $5 or $9, but it’s the principle of it that bothers me.
I’m not looking to make any money publishing this stuff. Not yet. I’ll just be super happy to get a story accepted someplace, even if it’s unpaid. Most places say they will pay like $25 a story, and some pay as much as 10 cents a word (there are some that pay a lot more, but I’m not on that level yet). Again, that’s so not important right now. I just need to get my name out there as a fiction writer, and get my creative voice launched and build up a fiction resume. It’s very exciting!
I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days about the simple question of: Why haven’t I done this until now?
It’s not that I have never submitted stories to magazines before. I have. One here, one there, very sporadically, and I didn’t put a lot of dedicated time into it. So that doesn’t count. I also was shooting high right out of the gate, sending stuff to the top magazines, like Glimmer Train or Asimov‘s. So when I would get that rejection letter, instead of going, “OK, now what’s the next magazine on my list to send it to,” I let it discourage me. I was dumber back then. No, really. Being discouraged because a super-popular magazine rejects your work is just stupid as hell if you really give a shit about getting your writing out there!
So, I have learned a lot and gained some wisdom (I think) as I’ve gotten older. I’m also more confident and self-aware than I’ve ever been in my life, so I feel strong enough to put myself out there and do it CORRECTLY, even if it takes a whole lot of time. It is worth doing. I never want to look back and feel pissed at myself for not putting in the effort. I already kind of do feel that way, but there’s no time like right-the-fuck-NOW to start changing that.
To re-iterate the writer’s mantra I posted a couple weeks ago: WRITE – REVISE – SUBMIT – REPEAT. That’s all it is. It’s work, but it’s the good kind of work.