Over the summer, there’s a certain lack of structure without the daily routine of going to class and being assigned homework. As writers, I think we’re all constantly writing, to one extent or another. So even without this structure, we can make it work. However, I find myself doubting my new work without a dozen pairs of eyes taking a look at it every week. So I’ve devised a summer routine I think works well.
I submit my work to magazines. Now, this isn’t only reserved for summer. I’m constantly submitting throughout the whole year, especially when I stumble upon contests or reading periods I was unaware of. But the summer provides a really great opportunity to fine-tune my pieces and then submit in large batches. I’ve spent a whole semester getting feedback from peers and now I’m ready to apply the finishing touches and hit that nerve-wracking “submit” button.
In terms of where to submit, I am constantly browsing a few well-known sites: New Pages, The Review Review, and Duotrope, and I always return to my favorite magazines that I know by heart. There are plenty more places where literary magazines are listed, but those are my go-tos. You can find nearly every literary magazine in existence listed on their pages. It’s a really wonderful tool and I recommend it for anyone who is on the lookout for the perfect home for their writing.
I also advise writers to sign up for Submittable. This is a submission manager that consolidates all of your submissions into one nifty, private account. You can check back to see the progress of your work. I say “advise,” but more often than not, this is the outlet through which most magazines run, and you can’t even submit without having an account. It’s rather mandatory, but I prefer the streamlined and consistent nature of it.
The other day, some of my writer friends and I were talking about submitting, and it wandered into “rejection” territory. Rejection is part of the game. There’s no avoiding it. Even the greatest writers have their share of rejection stories. I look at my Submittable page almost daily, and the (previously) red Declined label fills the screen. We discussed how we handle this as writers, and also how we’ve changed how we handle it. When I first started submitting, I put every single hope and dream into one story which I sent out to two magazines (big guns, too). And when I got rejected only weeks later, I felt like it was a crushing blow. To my career and to my ability to put myself out there. I’ll be honest, it felt a tad embarrassing.
All I can say is that I’ve learned to roll with the punches. I’ve gotten hundreds of rejections at this point. I look back at those first rejections and realize how understandable they were, how inevitable. The only way I was able to learn was to become a regular: submit, get rejected, edit, submit again to somewhere new. And then I taught myself to, in a small way, congratulate myself for each rejection. I didn’t look at it as a “failure,” but rather as proof that I’m circulating my work and hitting the grindstone. The slush pile is rough, and can be really cruel to your writing. But sometimes, you get personal rejections, and those are valuable, and you can only get them by saturating the market. Try, and try again.
So this summer, I’m saturating. I’ve saved up a little money for those really big league contests and magazines and I’m going to send out the best of my work that’s unpublished. It’s part of the hustle, and I have to say, after being in this game for a while, I enjoy it. Maybe that’s a bit masochistic of me, but I like the challenge.