Thursday, March 24, 2016

Yes, I Would Like To Have The Habits Of A Successful Short Story Writer

I recently subscribed to Writer's Digest, and if my first copy is any indication, I will have soooo much to write about here over the next year.

I'll begin with Literary Journal Submissions: Habits of Highly Successful Short Story Writers by Erika Dreifus for two reasons.
  1. I've been following Erika's Practicing Writing blog off and on for years. I don't get there as often as I'd like. On Mondays she posts market info for writers.
  2. I'm getting ready to submit short stories to journals. How perfect is it that the first issue of Writer's Digest arrived with this article at this time?
Among the things Erika writes about:

"Read Magazines and Journals" 


"...and understand each one's mission." She's correct. This is hugely important. You don't want to spin your wheels sending manuscripts to publications that clearly don't deal in your kind of work. It's also very difficult because it's so time consuming. Many literary journals are the size of books. Lots to read. Eleven years ago, I subscribed to Hunger Mountain. I still have two issues on one of my To Read shelves. And there are so many journals to check out. I just ordered the most recent issue of Carve.

"Submit Widely and Often"

Also hard. Again, it's a time thing. You have to do the reading to find your markets, decide which of your stories should be submitted where, deal with cover letters or the equivalent for those on-line submissions managers, and then keep track of what you've done in order to avoid being rejected by the same place two times. Or more.

Why is it so hard to find time to do these things? Because of the writing writers are supposed to be doing. If you write book-length work in addition to short stories, you can find yourself deep into a long writing project that has to be marketed in a totally different way from the short stories. Pulling your head out of that to read magazines and journals and submit widely and often...Woe.

"Believe In--And Act On--'Encouraging' Rejections

I have a story that fits here.

Years ago, I submitted a story to a tiny journal in Maine. It was, of course, rejected. But the editor sent a short note. It was a typed note. It clearly came from a little portable typewriter. I could tell because I had one when I was in college. The note said something like "There really are too many characters here for a short story."

Okay, that's not exactly encouraging. But I believed what that editor said and acted upon it. His response changed how I write short stories.

Also, Carve sent me a nice rejection once, though I can't remember for what. I was working on something else by the time I got it, something I couldn't pull my head out of.

That rejection, and the magazine's terrific website, encouraged me to buy its most recent issue, at least. 

Check out Literary Journal Submissions: Habits of Highly Successful Short Story Writers by Erika Dreifus in the new issue of Writer's Digest

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