Why submit work to literary magazines

April 2, 2010 — 1 Comment

…only to get rejected over and over?

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume?

A graduate student asks me this question. I have just concluded my spiel on how to submit your work for publication. I substitute “rejection” for “publication.” I pass around a folder of my rejection slips.

I am less surprised by the question than the source: a talented writer who works for a small religious press and knows more than the rest of her classmates about the business of submissions and rejections. Nonetheless, the question stirs my literary patriotism: I hold these truths to be self-evident. L’submit pour l’submit! Etc.

As I clear my throat in preparation for an Impromptu Speech, a woman at the end of the table, whose recent story has a minor character who carves tree trunks into animal statues, says isn’t the alternative just to toil away in one’s room by one’s self forever.

The class laughs, and I say something about this is what writers do. But I know this is like saying a fish swims because it’s a fish. If you want to be a fish, start swimming!

I think about the question on my way home in the dark of the November night. I continue to think about it. Not, why should writers submit their writing, but why should I submit mine?

Here’s all I’ve come up with so far.

1. Maggie Simpson is the only toddler who, after falling and falling, never ends up walking.

2. Someday I will die.

3. My readers are out there. I believe we want to find each other. This is the only way I know to do it.

4. For the same reason that editors, publishers, and literary lovers literally devote their lives to making journals and books and web sites. Whatever that is.

5. The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

6. Fuck coffee spoons: I will measure out my life with rejection slips.

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  1. Happy Ides of March! Happy 2nd anniversary to the blog! « ph.d. in creative writing - March 15, 2012

    […] Why Submit Work to Literary Magazines (only to get rejected over and over?) […]

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