Writers don’t spend all of their time writing. Far from it. Unless we are doing it just for fun, we have to spend a good amount of time sending our work out, and marketing ourselves. I have been a writer who sends out her work, and publishes a fair amount of it. Even though I have been doing this for thirty years, I am far from a “household name,” nor am I guaranteed publication. I know that I do get a closer look from editors because of my publishing credentials, but acceptance of a piece still rests on several variables: what an editor’s needs might be at the time, whether they may have just run a similar piece, they are overrun with submissions, or maybe they just don’t like what I sent them.
Of course, if I took any of this personally, I would have stopped doing this a long time ago. I seriously don’t think I am a masochist! If I honestly didn’t think my best work was still ahead of me I wouldn’t keep doing what I am doing. Which is writing, and getting published.
There truly are an unlimited number of places for a writer today to submit her work. Especially since online literary journals have become very acceptable places to publish. Of course, there are still hierarchies to the quality and prestige of these journals. Ploughshares (a top literary journal) is not the same as FishFood Magazine or Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal.
Yet, each of these journals is headed up by people who love stories. Just because they have funny names, or they haven’t published any Guggenheim winners, doesn’t mean they aren’t publishing good poems, stories, and essays.
The reason I am thinking about this is that in my own experience, sometimes I find myself thinking about whether I should submit to a journal that has a kind of kooky name. Case in point: I recently had a short-short story published by an online journal called Cease, Cows. When I looked at their website, I liked the quality of their prose and the presentation of the stories they posted. So I sent them a story of mine that I have always liked, but hadn’t figured out a good place to send yet, and they accepted it. And they did a great job of presenting it.
By the way, the name of the journal comes from a very literary source: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote in One Hundred Years of Solitude, “Cease, cows, life is short.” (And the journal publishes very short fiction. Makes sense to me.)
So when my short story “The Widow’s Wall” is featured this week on the online literary journal Digging Through the Fat, I will be happy that I might gain some new readers. And maybe I’ll send something next week to monkeybicycle or whiskeypaper. Oh, and maybe to The New Yorker as well…