For my 50th birthday, I asked for the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. Now I am home and back at my writing desk, distracted by the thank you notes I hope to write, blissfully interrupted by memories of good conversations with people who love books, people who write books.
I return freshly determined to submit my stories for publication in literary journals. One of the challenges to story submission: it’s important to know the publication, to see a sense of “fit” between the story and the journal. And the differences between journals are subtle. I invested a few hours at the festival visiting booths sponsored by literary journals, leafing through pages, trying to get a sense of each publication.
I could aim my work to smaller publications with more likelihood of success. Or I could aim for exquisite journals, where my story will be added to the slush-pile of unsolicited work, where the submission guidelines say I should not expect to hear from the magazine for six months or longer.
I need a visual record of what I’m doing, where I’m sending stories. I could easily spend a day crafting a lovely bulletin board, the dream board in my imagination. But the need to get started is far more urgent. I rush through the morning house, ignoring the mess and disorganization. (Why are the pliers in the pencil jar by the phone? Is there an unpaid bill hidden in this stash of old mail? Don’t look in the frig, don’t look in the frig, don’t.)
I return to my writing desk with a length of yarn and two pushpins I wrenched from the wall. I make a clothesline across my window. I write the name of a story on a 3 x 5 card, along with the name of a journal, and secure it with a clothespin—the clothespin still bearing the crayon marks from some long ago rainy day project. Two cards pinned. Now I must riffle through more story files for two more stories that are ready for final edits. My goal is to submit four stories by Friday morning, though some submissions require hard copies, envelopes, post office visits, and I am not good with the US Mail.
Now eating my forgotten breakfast of rice with golden raisins and cinnamon, now wishing for another cup of coffee. I have a clothesline. Cards are pinned to it.
Story 1 I will send the hard copy without looking at it, because I remember it as perfect.
Story 2, Smoke Rings, begins with two boring sentences. Printing a hard copy so I can do some final edits. Still wondering which publication.
Leafing through files for stories 3 and 4, and I found a gem! Already published on Catapult magazine’s site, An Un-Quiet Existence. If you go look at it, look at the current edition of Catapult, as well.
Now I’m off to look for more unpublished stories in my files.