I woke up this morning with a nagging feeling thrumming through my brain like the beginning of a really bad headache: It is time to kill some darlings. Time to submit some work and let the chips fall where they may.
Opening the Poets & Writers database of literary journals I am accosted by the sheer number of journals included. At first blush, it always seems as though there are oodles of possible homes for any story. However, delving deeper, I find again that out of a database of over 500 literary journals, I am considering only a handful at the end. Now instead of feeling hopeful and optimistic, I feel inept – is this the right way to go about it? I also feel unsure. After reading dozens of submission guidelines, are my stories worthy? “Send us your best work…”
Is my best good enough?
I remember an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert where she said she submitted short stories to places like Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker when she was first starting out. She just didn’t know any better, she claims. I would never dare. Should I? To me, that takes an incredible amount of nerve – I have only recently been able to refrain from eating an entire package of Oreos after receiving a rejection. If Atlantic Monthly sent me a rejection letter (I guess I should be so lucky – they’d probably never bother), I might go from Oreos to heroin.
I’m nothing if not dramatic; I’m sure I can’t afford heroin.
But onward I must go. As a poet said to me recently: “You will never amount to much as a writer if no one ever reads your work. Reading it aloud to the cat doesn’t count.”