Tag Archives: submissions


Last year, as I wrote about in my last (which was also my first) post, I started actually submitting some of my short stories to various online magazines. I was enthusiastic and excited; I dove in, devoting hours to researching different markets, sorting and ranking them, reading their content to figure out which ones were a good fit for my work. Eventually I submitted a few things, knowing not to have any expectations–everyone gets rejections at first, right? And I did get rejections, and that was okay; I just did a little more research, and sent my stories out again.

But somewhere along the way, in the middle of these efforts, I lost all my confidence in my writing. I saw other writers, younger than me, who already had dozens of publication credits. I saw other writers talking about how easy writing was for them, while I struggled to get anything polished enough to submit. I read the work of other writers and realized it was better than mine could ever be. Suddenly, trying to get published seemed incredibly arrogant. I got deeply discouraged, and I gave up–not just on submitting pieces, but on writing, too.

But last month, I sent off one of my few completed stories again, prompted by an upcoming submissions deadline for a magazine I enjoy. Having lost my hope and aspirations, I mostly forgot about it after that. But then, last week, I got an email from the magazine. I read the first line and thought it was another rejection–but it wasn’t.

You shouldn’t need external validation to keep doing something you love. I also know that being officially published doesn’t mean you’re good, and not getting published doesn’t mean you’re not. But I think, where I’m at right now, I did need that validation. I needed something to tell me it was worth it to keep going, that I shouldn’t just give up. That all the time and effort I’ve spent messing with words hasn’t been wasted. Having one short story accepted: it’s not really that big a deal. But to me, right now, it is.


The Beginning


n. the exhilarating dread of finally pursuing a lifelong dream, which requires you to put your true abilities out there to be tested on the open savannah, no longer protected inside the terrarium of hopes and delusions that you created in kindergarten and kept sealed as long as you could, only to break in case of emergency.

This invented word from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows perfectly captures where I am right now. I’ve been writing for over 10 years, but during that time I haven’t really done anything with my work besides endless revision and rewriting. Yesterday, though, I submitted a short story to an online magazine for the first time. It was a huge step for me, and in a way it feels great–I’m finally making an attempt to achieve my publishing dreams. But it’s also terrifying. What if I try and fail? What if I receive rejection after rejection and eventually have to accept that my dreams won’t ever be anything more, that I’m never going to attain the goal I’ve had in mind for so long? I wonder if I should have just stuck with dreaming, because then I’d never have to be disappointed.

But… I have to try. Because maybe I do have a chance; there are so many markets out there, way more than I ever knew until I started researching just recently. If I’m rejected by my first choice, I’ll try again, and again, with multiple different pieces. If nothing ever works out, then I’ll know–writing professionally isn’t for me. And in a way that would be a relief; giving up on being published would take a lot of the pressure off and allow me to just write for myself, which I would still enjoy. But if, at some point, something I write is accepted–well, right now I can only imagine the combination of satisfaction, excitement, and happiness that I’ll feel. I’ll look back at all those years of writing and marvel at what they’ve led to, hardly being able to believe that my dreams are actually coming true.

A few years ago, I did have several pieces published in my college’s literary magazine (I think it was four poems and two short stories over my four years at the school–funny, because I’ve barely written any poetry since then and tend to forget that I ever did). I haven’t been counting that as being published, though, because the school only had 1200 students total, and being co-editor of the magazine myself one year somehow made it seem less legit (I mean, I had to use Microsoft Publisher to put the thing together because my school couldn’t afford a real design program)–although I did not use my power to get my own work published! But having had pieces published there does give me hope; it happened once, it can happen again. And even if it never does… Well, a tiny college magazine is something, right?