A friend sent me this wonderful link to a website listing journals that are open to new and emerging writers. I was thrilled to see it even though not all of the names on it were new. Each had a brief descriptor giving insight into that particular journal and links to their websites. Perfect, right? My initial excitement should have been followed immediately by my seeking the writer’s guidelines and looking to see what pieces of mine might have fit which of those journals. That’s the way it works.
Not exactly. No, immediately words jumped out at me from each journals descriptors; quality, innovative, imaginative, excellence, publishes only the finest in fiction, writers with exceptional promise, powerful imagery and dynamic prose…okay, I’m going to just stop there because I’m getting physically ill. Suffice it to say the expectations these journals list do not have beginner nor emerging writer anywhere on them. Are we those things? Maybe. Probably. In some cases, absolutely. But seriously, who can see beyond the expectation of that?
I began thinking of my pieces and being my biggest critic, none of those things applied to me or my work. I wasn’t qualified to send these people a fan letter let alone a submission. What the hell made me think two years in an MFA program and a few publications and a novel later, I had the right to submit to a market that wanted only the “finest” in “powerful” fiction?
If you ever questioned why so many writers drank themselves senseless, this is it. Where else do you see people having to live up to these kind of expectations? Certainly not our politicians. Or lawyers for that matter. No offense intended, and all jokes aside, no one ever expects the best from either of those so we’re beyond thrilled when we encounter a good one. And as for the entertainment industry? Most of them move through rehab and prisons as a part of their celebrity internship so expectations aren’t a problem for them. Expectations are so low there, we get all excited about a movie like Titanic and give it an Oscar. Enough said.
We not only face the rejection that people in entertainment face but we also face unreasonable standards which means we are set up to fail. Write a masterpiece. Still, if you aren’t Stephen King or Jodi Piccoult, you’ll make nothing. And probably not sell enough for a second novel to be picked up by a publisher. I know, totally Negative Nellie. So, you ask – and rightly so – why am I still here, still doing this?
Writers are masochists? I don’t write because I choose to. Lord knows, given a choice I’d do something less taxing. But writing is the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night. I feel guilty when I’m not writing. I feel guilty when I’m writing and ignoring everything else. No matter how much guilt I feel though, the words flow through me. I couldn’t stop them if I wanted to. And I don’t.
That website? http://www.writehabit.org/journals.html Why am I sharing? Because misery loves company, don’t you know?