Remember that Dr. Seuss book: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish? (Oh, how I loved reading that to my son when he was young!)
Whenever I think of submitting my writing–my lovely and precious words!–my mind feels as jumbled as that Dr. Seuss title: This magazine or that? This poem or essay or that one? Or hey, I see that this editor ran a marathon and I’ve run marathons so it must be a sign from the universe (It wasn’t. I was slammed with a rejection in less than two weeks).
I hate to submit. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Because really, in how many occupations/vocations does one find him/herself facing rejection on a daily basis?
But at the same time, I also love to submit. I love it, love it, love it. Because for a brief moment in time I truly believe that my work will be regarded with multi-syllable adjectives of praise.
Until I hit the Send button. As soon as my submission leaves my cozy little writing room in my snowy and cozy corner of Alaska, I’m seized with doubt. I imagine editors sneering at my work. “Who does she think she is?” they’ll say, and then they’ll read my work out loud in pompous tones, laughing like hell.
The most devious thing about writing is that if you don’t submit, you’ll never be published. Yet if you do submit, you’ll be hit with rejection. It’s inevitable. It’s a fact of life, like period pains and underarm odor.
Here’s a few frightening and disheartening statistics: Top-tier literary journals publish less than 1% of manuscripts. Literary agents reject approximately 96% of authors. And publishers? Well, those odds are even more dismissal.
Now that my second novel is finished and sent off to New York (where they may or may not accept it, since it wasn’t exactly the novel they asked for or expected yet was the only book I could write at that particular time and particular moment in my life), I’m gearing up to send out my work. My goal is five to ten submissions a week.
Last week I sent out four: Two chapbook contests and three groups of poems. Wait, that’s five. Okay, so I guess I did better than I thought and hooray for me for actually meeting my goal (though a swift kick in the behind for my shoddy math skills).
I’m going to start posting my rejections too, like Jac Jemc does in her Rejection blog, though I’m going to do so a bit less blatantly and simply slip my rejections inside my regular blog posts (I’m not as brave as you are, Jac).
But onward to more cheerful topics. Well, not exactly cheerful but still, I can’t stop thinking about Tara Sparling’s post “I Hate Women’s Fiction and I’ll Tell You Why.” Because listen to what she says:
Because Men’s Fiction isn’t even a thing. Most booksellers (except Amazon) pretend that Women’s Fiction isn’t a thing, either, by not specifically listing it as such, because they know it’s patronising and insulting to female readers, who make up a significant majority of the reading public. But just try, as a female writer, to sell a book to an agent or publisher and get away from the term ‘Women’s Fiction’. You can’t. Because behind the official lists, it’s the biggest genre there is.
Hooray to you, Tara! And then it gets even better, for she says:
But I do have a fundamental problem with the fact that if a man writes a book which has within it themes such as love, marriage, family and anything even vaguely domestic, it is Literary Fiction; but when a woman writes about the same issues, it is immediately labelled Chick-Lit.
Yes, yes and yes! (I’m developing a bigger writing crush on Tara Sparling each time I read this.)
Talking about crushes, I seem to have bombed out of the whole NaNo crush thinger. Just not feeling it. I have been writing like crazy, and writing each day. And I am on Chapter Five of a new novel. But mostly I’m editing up poems and essays and short fiction pieces and working on a memoir and, okay, okay, instead of being in a monogamous writing relationship, I’ve been kind of slutty.
And last but not least: Kevin Brennan’s Yesterday Road is only 99 cents for the Kindle version through Dec. 8. Whoa!
And, of course, winter pictures of Alaska. You know, just because.