The Love of a Good Publication
Sep 21, 2013Anyone who knows me will tell you this: I hate dating. I hate dating so much I'd rather stare at my ceiling fan for four hours watching dust settle than sit at a bar talking to a stranger. I hate dating so much I'd rather grade the fifty-four undergrad papers lurking in front of me. I hate dating so much I tell any interested man how much I hate dating so he'll leave me alone. I'd rather submit my fiction to places that won't take it, as if that kind of rejection won't feel as miserable as the other. Because even if you do find someone you might be interested in, and even if he ends up being interested in you, there are Olympic-sized hurdles that seem damn near impossible to clear. I've had an entire year full of the phrase, I love you, but½ I love you but I have a girlfriend, is pretty standard. I love you but I have to go to Minnesota to live in my parents' basement, is one of the sadder ones. If we get beyond the appalling fact that most of these men tell me they love me before we've seen each other naked, this kind of rejection becomes damn near debilitating. A week ago, I spent twenty minutes screaming into my car radio after I'd fallen for a rocket scientist who'd neglected to tell me he lived with his girlfriend of six years until midnight of date number two. I love you in some way, he texted later. Ha! is what I wanted to write back. Thanks to irony, I got a rejection letter the next day. We liked this but½ As writers, we come to expect this type of cold shoulder. The editors have to be in a rare good mood, the stars have to be perfectly aligned, and the sun needs to be shining at just the right angle, and all of these things need to be happening at the same time for a shot at acceptance. But first, you have to put in the work. You have to find a story you're interested in, and then, even if the story is also interested in you, you have to write the goddamn thing (sit your ass down, suffer through self-loathing). Revise and revise again (self-loathing coupled with rare moments of bliss, if you're lucky); stick it in a drawer; revise it again ad nauseum (more self-loathing). Find the journals you like; find the journals you think might dig your work; find the journals that are taking work; make a Venn Diagram. Write a cover letter; format; get up the courage to press submit. Wait. Wait two weeks or two years. Most of the time, we wait for rejection.