Persisting to Be Published.

Posted by @ 5:09 pm on June 10th, 2010

There are very prolific writers in this world. I’ve learned this because these writers seem to have a bottomless queue of writing they can submit–I’m talking arsenals of hundreds of stories or poems. I don’t mind that many writers will submit every seven days like clockwork. I’m generally excited to see what they’re going to send next and a week is usually enough time for my reading palate to be properly cleansed.

What I do mind is how oftentimes, a new submission from a writer is very similar in tone, subject matter, aesthetic, or form to a previous submission(s). I am fascinated by why a writer would send a story/other creative work that’s exactly like the story rejected a week earlier. To me, a rejection implies that something about a given submission isn’t working so probably, we’re looking for different, rather than more of the same.

I will never be that person who says you need to have a sacred, emotional bond with a magazine before you submit. As an editor, I would appreciate your reading a few issues of the magazine to get a sense of what we like, what we publish, who we are. As a human being I recognize you may not always do your full due diligence and I won’t get too riled up about it. Still. I am increasingly curious as to why writers treat magazines like conquests not because they love the magazine so much they want to be published there but because they see rejection as a challenge, or a gauntlet that has been thrown, and are, as such, inspired to respond to that challenge, exhaustively. (I have done this too. I apologize, editors.)  I can’t tell you how many cover letters say things like, “I will crack this code,” or “I will break your defenses,” or “I will conquer you.” Really? How about you just send me something awesome and unexpected? How about you try to understand why we’re not clicking? Think about it, maybe, just a little.

Writers also say things like, “I don’t have much more left in my Writing folder” or “I’m running out of things to send you.” These are actual statements writers have made. Why would your sending me your writerly dregs, and telling me you are sending me your dregs, make me want to read your submission, let alone accept it? Why not wait until you have something new, something you feel in your bones is right for a magazine instead of throwing a bunch of words at a wall, hoping something will stick?

Writers will also say, “I know you’re going to reject this but I’m going to send it anyway,” or “I know you’re going to reject this but I want it to be read.” Again, why? Why are you a. shooting yourself in the foot with self-deprecation and b. deliberately wasting your time and mine by submitting something you know is wrong? If you want your writing to be read, join a writing group. If you want your writing to be legitimately considered for publication, submit it to a magazine.

If I’ve learned anything editing, it’s that there’s no pleasing anyone, there’s probably no pleasing me, and anything can blossom into a frustration on any given day but golly, some writer behaviors are more grating than others. Let us all, as writers, help ourselves by avoiding these types of practices.

Just how many stories/poems/other word things do you have lying in wait? (30 or so in various stages of readiness.)

How often are you willing to submit to a magazine before you take a break or accept that acceptance might not happen? (5?)

When does persistence become something other than virtuous?

Tags: , ,