Some words of encouragement for those of you who have been trying to get your work published.
Submitting stories for publication can be a long and thankless task, but it is immensely uplifting when a story is accepted. It means that someone has read your work and has, in a sense, validated it. One of my favourite stories: A Cure For Snakebites, was sent out a total of 30 times to different literary journals between 2011 and 2017. I re-wrote the story multiple times, but essentially the heart of it remained the same. I had a message to convey and somewhere the message was embedded in that story. Sometimes when we start writing a story – or even when we have written the first few drafts – we are not sure what our story is about. We cling to that tale because our heart says we must.
I stuck with this story for that reason. I would take it out, re-read it, tweak it, and experience a range of ‘Aha!’ moments as I began to understand what it meant for me. The writer Dorothea Brande said, “Writing is re-writing.” We need to re-write in order to dig deeply and find out what is in the pit of our subconscious. So, don’t write your story and say that you are done with it after the first draft. Look again and you will see something new.
For readers, our stories may have many different meanings. We can explain up to a point what we were trying to say, but ultimately it must be for the reader to search and find what they are looking for in that story.
A Cure For Snakebites was finally accepted on the 31st try, by the literary journal Litro at the beginning of 2017, and I later republished it under the title Charmed in the collection A Brief History of Several Boyfriends.
Part of the key to getting your stories published is finding the right match between your style of writing and the journal to which you are submitting. That means reading the material they publish to see if your story is likely to fit. Don’t submit at random. Your story, if you love it, deserves better than that.