Guest post by Trish Hopkinson, blogger at Trish Hopkinson: A Selfish Poet
It’s easy to get discouraged, to question the purpose or why it’s meaningful at all to send your poems and other writing out for what often results in rejection. We all do it. There’s not one poet or writer (alive or dead) who hasn’t questioned the quality of their work, questioned their reasons for writing, asked themselves if any of it is worth it. I’m here to tell you IT. IS. WORTH. IT. And so are the authors of the five articles listed below.
Here’s my own short list of reasons:
#1 - Helps you to become a good literary citizen—support the art of literature. Read literary magazines online. Subscribe to a few. Request books of independent publishers and lesser known authors you love at your local library. And of course, submit your own work. In doing so, you become part of a community.
#2 - For the thrill—yes, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride to submit to literary magazines, but I actually think a better metaphor is golf. Very few people ever really get good at the game, it’s rare to get a hole in one, or even make par on most holes—but when you do? There’s simply nothing like it.
#3 - You will want to keep writing—sure, there are days when all those questions come pouring in. But ultimately, if you’ve ever had a piece accepted and published, you’ll want to continue playing the game, pushing yourself, improve and refine your art. This is where my tagline “selfish poet” comes in. When I write poetry, the process of creating, the act itself—that is for no one else but me.
Need more encouragement? These articles each take a little of a different approach and have something new for everyone. Each article is a page or so. Some focus on poetry, others on short stories, and some on writing in general. Bookmark your favorites and come back to it on those days when you need reasons for what you do.
4 Reasons You Should Submit to Literary Magazines by Crystal J. Zanders (Blue Mesa Review)
3. You is important: No one has lived through your experiences and can write about them with the style, grace, and beauty or starkness, darkness and terseness––or however you write––that you can. Your voice matters. We need to hear it. I believe that a story, a poem, or an essay can change everything. What if that essay is just sitting on your hard drive when it could be making the world a better place? You are an important part of the literary landscape. We need you.
Ten Reasons for Sending Your Poems to Magazines by Helena Nelson (Happenstance)
4. The poet who works at getting the poems out there is a member of the community of jobbing poets. It’s part of the apprenticeship, if you like. It’s an honourable striving. If the poems aren’t accepted, the effort is no less praiseworthy. Besides, you’re going to stick at it. You’re going to send them somewhere else. There are many publications for your messages in a bottle to float away to.
See Old Work in a New Way: Many lit mags are either themed journals themselves (criminal justice, J Journal; music,Conduit; motherhood, The Mom Egg, etc.) Or else they are generalized magazines that publish to specific themes once in awhile (“In the Dark”, Hayden’s Ferry Review; “Southern Sin”, Creative Nonfiction, etc.) You might not think of a certain piece of writing as publishable. Yet when you look at it within the context of a particular theme, lo! Perhaps the piece is suitable for submission afterall. It might need work to get it into shape, but it’s worth a shot. Another advantage of pursuing this angle of publishing is that the competition may not be as stiff. While a journal’s ordinary submissions might be in the thousands, a theme issue may not have quite so many submissions.
Stubbornly Submitting to a Literary Magazine is Good by Michael Nye (The Missouri Review)
Assistant editor Evelyn Somers spoke up at this point, explaining that getting rejected by a magazine repeatedly and then, finally, getting work accepted is, actually, fairly normal. It’s a little frustrating for an editor, she said, when a writer submits to us five times and then just stops and we never hear get the chance to read the writer’s work again. She noted that TMR has published several writers who sent manuscripts to us for over a decade before we published their work.
My favorite (short story focus):
Yes, most literary magazines are small in circulation and have little (if any) money to pay you. But publication in one ups your literary cred significantly. Remember, these mags are used as scouting grounds for young, hungry agents and editors looking to make their mark. Think about it: You’re new at an agency or publishing house, and you dream of discovering an unknown writer and signing him or her to a book contract before anyone else does. Where’s a good place to look? The pages of these magazines.
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About our guest blogger: Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She is author of three chapbooks and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including Stirring, Chagrin River Review, and The Found Poetry Review. She is a product director by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow Hopkinson on her blog where she shares information on how to write, publish, and participate in the greater poetry community at http://trishhopkinson.com/.