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Why I Need To Submit Fiction More Often

Posted on 01.06.2015 at 11:04
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For the past few months I’ve essentially lived in a bubble. I read little outside of my school work, virtually ignored online news, so I’ve had only the faintest idea of what’s been happening in the world. But as the semester ended I started returning to the surface for air and discovered that several spec fic magazines had emerged since I’d last kept tabs on anything beyond school. The lifecycle of publishing deserves its own post; for now, I’ve got submitting work on the brain.

It’s been a while since I’ve sent out anything for publication. Part of that’s because I haven’t had the time or opportunity—it was probably my busiest semester in years, hence the bubble. But composing a cover letter and hitting Send doesn’t take all that much time. The bigger issue is that I have nothing in good enough shape to share publicly—or at least, nothing that hasn’t already been rejected across the board. So I have to get something ready for publication.

But which one(s)? The stories I wrote most recently need less revision—I hope—compared with those I wrote earlier, since the older ones no longer accurately represent my writing now. I could in theory polish those up to the point where they do showcase the way I write now.

Still, I only have so much time. The obvious solution is to focus on the stories I think are strongest and/or most appropriate for the venues I’m interested in. But. I like the old stories and think at least a few of them deserve a home; if I didn’t, I might not have been able to write them in the first place.

This, then, is why I think I need to be better about submitting work: Because I can tinker indefinitely with a piece, judging it not ready.* Because I can dismiss an older story languishing in the digital drawer because it’s not reflective of my work now. But for writers, there is no now. Like photographs, the work we produce can never illustrate who we are, only who we were. I have a sense of my own private history as a writer, but there’s no public history. Nothing to tell others where I’ve been, how far I’ve come.

So the work needs to be out there, searching for a home, becoming part of something larger. Otherwise, it’s easy to continue telling myself not yet, not yet until it’s too late.

*Works of art are never finished, only abandoned.

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