If I had a kid, I’d probably think twice about shipping him off to a bunch of strangers, quite possibly never to be heard from again. But I’m not parent. I’m a writer, a childless writer who has no intentions of ever having children. So my essays have become my babies. I love each and every one in a unique way. And the thought of sending one of my kin sailing away down a river of faceless literary agents and publishers frightens me.
Will they celebrate him? Will they laude him with compliments? “Oh my! Aren’t you a perfect specimen of narrative non-ficiton? Your father must have amazing literary skill.” Or will they destroy him, dismembering him with their red pens and shredding machines.
I am trying to get past this anxiety. Criticism and rejection are just part of the process. Just because one person of literary esteem does not like what I produce does not mean another won’t. And it doesn’t automatically mean that what I birth is without value. Perhaps some refinement may be needed; perhaps better marketing tactics need to be employed. But you wont’ know unless you try.
To get over my hangups with submitting, I’ve set a couple of small goals for myself. I’m going to write a couple pieces over the next month and identify some magazines to submit to. These would be for consumer magazines rather than literary journals. I have other pieces that are more suitable for the latter, which I am considering publishing in book form.
If anyone has any advice for me about doing the legwork for the submission process, let me know. Coming from the journalism world, I’m familiar with the query process, the never-call-an-editor rule and things of that nature. As for researching publications to submit to, I’ve been using the Writer’s Market website, which is a really terrible resource. Wikipedia is more thorough, but it still isn’t fantastic.