Awareness of outlet


Occasionally I realize that I've written something perfect for McSweeney's Internet Concern, but by then it's been on my blog for weeks. Today's post, however, I realized I could submit before posting it. So I sent it in. When the reject it, I'll throw it up here, but until then, it's in the ether.

I read a blogpost today that lacked some clarity but seemed to suggest that his writing group gives out a prize to the person that collects the most rejections each year. Which is awesome, of course. Writers collect rejections and display them like war wounds, but sometimes it's hard to not think that maybe I'm just going around this all wrong.

Most boilerplate rejections I've seen contain a variation on "it's just not right for us" --- which, while obviously a euphemism for You Suck, is also a clear message to the skilled writer that maybe they need to research a bit better.

But how do you motivate yourself to research a mag that will at best pay you enough for a dozen donuts? So much shorter writing is only done for love and while any decent writer subscribes to a few literary mags, no one can afford to subscribe to all of them.

And so what?

Because it is entirely possible to have something incredible and worthy that genuinely is "just not right" for anyone --- the world doesn't provide publishers anxious to publish one of every sort of everything. That's not the way things work. So what do writers do --- particularly those so far from any stream that mainstream sounds like a myth?

In the modern world, connecting the monotype author to the (very few) appropriate readers should be possible.

How do you think we're doing?

And how can we do better?


  1. I haven't read McSweeney's in years. I actually was published there or rather a question I e-mailed in (via pseudonym) to the Literary Agent was answered there.

    Haven't ever felt the need to submit anything since -- I got that out of my system with The White Shoe Irregular.

    Good luck!

  2. Here's the problem, as I see it. Readers are motivated to find the books (poetry, short stories, etc.) they will most enjoy so that they don't waste time and money. Writers, on the other hand, don't generally have a motivation to find the readers who will most enjoy their book, since the payoff is higher if more people buy the book. I'm simplifying the motivations in the situation and I don't intend to accuse writers of being evil propagandists, I just think that the mismatch in motivations makes cooperation difficult.

  3. .

    That....that is very insightful, Katya. Very good point.