(NOTE: I update the publication list below on a rolling basis. Regards from 7/15/2016!)
Today I am drinking rum. I left the wine. I gave myself to the bite, poured over a few bits of ice.
Today I am rambling on a bit about the ins and outs of the submission process, a bit of a nerve-wracking thing with unrelenting, resouding NOs. Successive failures in this regard, coupled with the general ambiance of my mom’s basement, and nearing my mid-twenties therein, makes for a nauseating and poignant experience. It’s also really fucking funny, if you ask me.
Of course, anyone engaged in writing—particularly creative writing and freelance work—in this day and age knows the struggle of getting publication credits.
About 2012 I started off on Submittable, an online platform for visual and written submissions. They display a list on your profile, with “Declined” in red for every, well, decline, and “Accepted” in green as its opposite. It can be demoralizing, I admit, scrolling through a column of submissions—complete with cover letters and/or little biographies and attachments, etc.—seeing those bloody red phrases, “Declined,” pouring down the page, with a single interruption of “Accepted” for a poem sent in a year ago, to someone’s WordPress startup.
Between Submittable and my other pitches (via e-mail or upload form), I have been thus far booted from the ranks of: 3:AM Magazine, 32 Poems Magazine, Animal, The Bakery, Big Lucks, Blue Monday Review, Bohemia Art & Literary Journal, Bourbon Penn, Burnside Review, Chapbook Publisher/Naissance, Cimarron Review, The Citron Review, The Conium Review, The Connecticut Post, Diverse Voices Quarterly, DMQ Review, Defenestration, The Drabblecast, Every Day Fiction, Five Quarterly, Flock, Fourth Genre, Gambling the Aisle, Green Linden Press, The Gleaner, Haunted Waters Press, Hermeneutic Chaos, The Hopper, Inklette, Jersey Devil Press, The Journal of Global Buddhism, Kentucky Review, Lingerpost, Litro, The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, Mud Season Review, New Statesman, No Extra Words, Parody Poetry, Pif Magazine, Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry, Pretty Owl Poetry, Profane, Prong & Posy, Pseudopod, Rattle, Red Savina Review, SAND Journal, Shot Glass Journal, Slipstream Press, Spiral Nature, Split Rock Review, SubTerrain, Tahoma Literary Review, TakePart, and Winning Writers. (I also submitted a stage play several years back. I can’t remember the name of the receiving group.)
I suppose that doesn’t seem like much. I’ll admit I had a professor that once said something along the lines of, “even having one in forty submissions accepted is good.” Granted, he was speaking about poetry alone—and that’s its own dimension entirely—but his point remains.
Personally, my list is inundated with poetry, but also includes short stories and flash fiction, as well as academic and creative essays.
There are also those publications that simply don’t get back to you, or take such a long and inordinate amount of time to review anything that you completely forget about them, the only reminder sitting in the bottom of your inbox somewhere.
I’ve more recently been submitting essays, and even put in a chapbook manuscript, with no feedback as of yet.
Of course, you’ve got to keep your fingers crossed. But a few years of plugging away with little success can be disheartening. This especially so if I include in my “body of work” my old Tumblr and Blogger/Blogspot blogs.
What constitutes “success,” anyway? Fame is certainly not the point of being a writer, but I’d be lying if I said that a little recognition wouldn’t be appreciated. I suppose that’s my ego popping up. It’s the delusion that in the vast tracts of time—from alpha to omega—some of my words somewhere on a page will somehow create a resounding echo throughout the universe.
I’ll just keep writing, I guess. What else can I do?