Yesterday, I received the last edit to one of my short stories from my oh-so-patient writing coach/mentor/guru with her blessing to send it forth into the world. I was excited. No feelings of dread, no cold sweats. Perhaps at last, I’d turned a corner.
About half an hour into researching a good home for my short story, my stomach began to cramp and I felt a familiar tightness in my chest. My breathing got shallow and my head began to ache. As I scrolled through the list of literary journals on the Poets & Writers website, I found myself singing a familiar tune. It goes something like this:
“No, can’t submit there…they sound too highbrow.”
“Ewww…can’t send it there. They have famous authors on their masthead. I’m not good enough for that crowd.”
“Oh, I don’t think so…they sound too academic.”
“My story’s not edgy enough”
“Nope, nope…they require “literary excellence only. Don’t think I qualify.”
“I need a nap.”
After an hour, I’d concluded:
- My story sucks and it won’t find a home anywhere
- All of my writing sucks and I will forever be a hack who writes “for fun”
- I am a talent-less frumpy-wump with horrible clothes
Don’t ask where that last one came from but you see the general direction of my mood. Why can’t someone’s submission guidelines say something like: We welcome all writers, young and old, who are passionate about words on a page and the stories they tell. We don’t care if you’ve been published a thousand times or never. Send us your best; of course, show us you’ve put thought and care into your words. Let’s have a look…there, there, everything will be alright…
I’m all for literary excellence, please don’t misunderstand. Furthermore, I understand that I will be rejected and not always because some editor thinks I’m crap (although some undoubtedly will). The story and the publication have to be a good fit. I know all of this, rationally. Really I do. But, in the depths of this search for the “good fit,” and after reading about 100 submission guidelines, why am I left with the impression that I’m not worthy of being published? Ever.
So, here I sit….cowed but not completely defeated. I need to dye my hair and put on something other than yoga pants. I need to then return to my computer and start again. My story is good and it WILL find a home – somewhere with editors who will take a chance on someone who was published once in an ezine that no longer exists but whose writing is solid and honest. Because everyone has to start somewhere and giving up will get me exactly nowhere.