Sunday, January 10, 2016

In praise of GPN

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little good news today. And luckily, Facebook provides it.

A friend is looking over a galley of his forthcoming book. Another friend is a finalist for a prize. Someone received an encouraging rejection, and someone broke into a journal she’s always wanted to be in.

Crickets are chirping in my Submittable feed, playing their predictable song: “Inprogress inprogress inprogress inprogress inprogress.” But things are happening in the writing world, and my turn is coming soon.

A while back I invented the acronym “GPN.” It stands for “good poetry news,” and people I know, and even strangers, have taken to using it. When a poem is accepted by a journal or a book is contracted for print, I’ll find it in my feed: “GPN!” followed by an explanation. Even prose writers have discovered it. “GPN” can mean “good prose news” just as easily, although I often see variants: “GEN,” “GFN,” “GSSN.”

GPN may be the very best thing I’ve ever come up … well, at least since I invented the term of endearment “sweetie pie” when I was four or so. I was convinced when I heard someone else use it that I was a victim of the crassest plagiarism. (I still kind of think that, actually.) But I offer up GPN without the need for credit. It’s open source. Sample away.

The notion of GPN reflects my worldview, which is that your successes are not my de facto failures. Even if you win a contest that I entered, I like you—so that’s a win, as far as I’m concerned. I want to celebrate with you, and when the tables are turned, I know that you’re going to do the same for me.

Some people object to writers posting their publishing successes on social media. It strikes many as nothing but braggadocio, serving only to puff up the writer. I apologize in advance to those people, because I fully intend to sing out my happy news, from close-call rejections to that next book—and there will be a next book. I’ll post when I get an acceptance (although I omit the name of the journal until a contract is signed and returned). And more importantly, I’ll post a link to my work when it’s published, because my poems and essays mean something to me, and I want you to read my words.

Incidentally, by sharing good news, we’re also sharing information about opportunities. Here is a journal that is actively reading work. Here is a contest that prints writers at my level. Here is a residency I hadn’t previously heard of. I often make submission plans based on the publishing news I pick up on Facebook or Twitter.

Social media is a funny animal. We use that word “friend,” but if we’re not careful about whom we surround ourselves with, we may find some people resent the most minimal of our successes. That’s a good sign that those folks aren’t our friends, despite Facebook’s nomenclature, and I have no compunctions about dropping them.

Trust me on this. Your real friends want to hear your good news.


  1. I LOVE hearing GPN! Especially since so much of life is spent IN PROGRESS.

    1. I know exactly what you mean! I love anyone's GPN, but especially my friends'.