…you know, the copies they send to authors whose work is featured therein. Yes! I have a story in the current issue of So to Speak, a feminist journal founded by an editorial panel of lady MFAers at George Mason University twelve years ago. I am really excited to be in So to Speak and am planning to subscribe. Literary journals need love.
In other news, I attended a panel yesterday on publishing, offered as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the MFA program at the University of Arizona. The panel was great in that it was comprised of writers with a range of experiences, from traditionally agented fiction to a poet published with university presses, and an unagented nonfiction writer whose essay collection is also being published by a university press.
A number of interesting topics pertaining to publishing came up, but the thing I really walked away with wasn’t explicitly stated. It’s this: that authors who don’t seem to have expectations for their work (including remunerative) seem happier overall. I think this is really telling. It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that I don’t hold out hopes of writing a novel that is read by lots of people, but that’s not why I write. I write because I feel like I have to, that I have stories I have to tell, and that to attempt to tell them gives my life meaning it would otherwise lack. It’s hard to make a living as a writer of fiction, which is why I anticipate that I will always work in some other field and save the writing for my own time.
Another message echoed by a few of the writers, addressing the question of self-promotion, was that they viewed things like readings as ways to meet and connect with other writers and with like-minded people. Selling books is not the focus. I think this parallels the way people should (and do) think about social media – that to be effective, it needs to be about community-building and connecting with others, not about pushing out a message or a product.
Anyhoo. I started with good news, and so I will add an ego-tempering addendum, which is that I also got an email rejection yesterday morning. It was somewhat amusing, as it was for a story I submitted back in May 2011 – response times that long just make rejection a foregone conclusion. I track all of this on a spreadsheet, which is how I discovered that November 2010 is my longest foregone rejection conclusion. Come on, Believer! Cut me loose! What if I was waiting by the phone for you??