I love good news. I love it so much, it doesn’t even have to be my good news in order to provide a lift.
And so when friends post good publishing news on social media, I get a little charge from it. I like seeing which magazines are accepting their work, which presses are biting, how response patterns are materializing. By that same token, I also appreciate it when fellow writers share their disappointments—especially on those occasions when I’m experiencing the very same disappointment at the same time.
Knowing which journals, presses, and contests are responding can be very useful. A spate of responses, good or bad, sometimes precedes the start or end of the academic year, or a coming holiday, or the annual writing conference. If a writer is accepted by a journal that rejects us, we learn a little something about the publication’s aesthetics and how our work might fit (or not). The same is true for those journals that accept us and reject our friends.
I know that when I’ve experienced a publishing dry spell, it has felt a little like a shot in the arm when someone I know and like has a piece accepted by a good journal. And it also gives me hope when I learn that someone has finally scored a book contract after years of trying. If it can happen for them, I remind myself, it can surely happen for me, too.
My pleasure in the successes of my friends is not entirely from altruism. I also find announcements of publications to be a great way to learn about journals I’ve never heard of, and just knowing about their activity spurs me to want to get in on the fun.
Even rejections are, for me, a kind of fun. Each one signals that I’m making forward progress and doing the work of getting my writing in front of readers. An editor who rejects me is also a reader who has read my work—and finding readers, any readers, is part of the contract I made with myself when I accepted writing as a calling. It’s great when the editor appreciates our work enough to put it in front of other readers, but even when that doesn’t pan out, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we’ve done our job—we’ve attempted to close the circuit, to transfer the spark from our imagination to a reader.
I know so many people who are reticent about announcing an acceptance, a contract, a fellowship, or a grant. It feels like bragging to them. And honestly, I also know a lot of people who see it that way, and who absolutely hate announcements of good news.
I have made a point of not living my life to accommodate small-mindedness. My friends are going to hear my good news, and a lot of my bad news, too. “The Soul selects her own Society,” someone once said, and my soul chooses to surround itself with supportive people—both for the intel we can provide one another and for the boost to the spirit our good news can give.