It’s October. Writers, we know what that means, right?
Of course, it’s submission season! The time of year all writers look forward to!
How can we not?
Here in the Great Lakes, leaves turn–gold, orange, burnished and red–before falling, swirling, to the ground. The waters of Lake Michigan beckon, beaches are empty, their sand warm in afternoon sun. Children roam schools while workplaces hum on highest settings. Yards and gardens call out to be cleared and harvested. Houses and halls, windows and furnaces, cars and chimneys demand care. Nights cool, winter blankets are aired, wool socks checked for holes, sweaters cleaned. Squash, beans, and Cruciferae of every shape and color await baking, sauteeing, and stuffing. Soups, accompanied by freshly baked bread, reappear on tables.
Writers, are we out grooming the garden, giving thanks at mountains of produce gracing grocery walls, firing up the grill one last time, taking in a concert or daring to break mold and attend a ballet?
We sit trapped in our cubbies and cubicles, glued to our desks, staring at walls, shoulders stiff and necks crimping.
We are busy. Busy submitting.
Servant to the ritual of presenting our writing to unknown editors of literary magazines, the rare “glossy mag” that still publishes personal writing of any genre, the occasional contest or competition. We open our hearts and offer up the product of our sweat and tears, while declaring, here I am, here on this page, judge my writing, go ahead–scrutinize, evaluate, appraise.
What do you think? Does it measure, match, play in the same league with the rest? What is strong, what is weak? Can you use it? Does it meet your needs?
Will you publish it?
We know that only the rare editor will take the time–indeed, has the time–to answer any question other than the last. If you have the good fortune to encounter such an editor cherish, thank, and listen to him or her!
But it’s my belief that every time we submit our work, we ask these questions, consciously or not. We are, in short, open, trusting, and vulnerable.
This is what we do, at this time of year, for many of us, all year: we open our hearts and send out our work. It’s really something, this submitting that we do. We need to give ourselves more credit for it–for enduring its sheer tedium, for the labor and time involved, but, mostly, for our willingness to expose ourselves to the danger of submitting.
For knowing that every time we send out a submission, we will receive a thumbs-up, or, more likely–much more likely–a thumbs-down. And yet, continue submitting.
And for the reality that no matter how often we receive a thumbs-down, rejection never loses its sting, never loses its ability to undermine, to rattle. The more rejections we receive, the better we might become at handling them. But we can’t always predict just how a rejection will effect us, as this depends–as our response to all rejection does–on who we are, and how are lives are running at that time.
Writers, forget for a moment that we are all Charlie Hebdo. (https://pamelamartinwriter.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/writers-we-are-all-charlie-hebdo/)
No, we are Charlie Brown running to kick the football Lucy holds. Never giving up, not learning that the ball will–in all probability–be yanked away, and we will fall flat on our faces.
And yet we persevere. We write more, write better, send it out, and go on. This is our work, our art. This is how it rolls; no one ever said it’d be easy. But the sheer challenge of submitting takes, I have found, the breath away from many a writer.
So we need to support ourselves, and the writers around us.
To remember, especially when rejections roll in, that we are warriors. And, like all warriors, we are tough, but in danger. We take our licks, bruises, and breaks. And then, go on, while remaining vulnerable. We have to–submitting is inherently dangerous.
But more, we want to, knowing, as we do, that our best writing emerges not from poised smiles and controlled responses and surface thoughts, but from our vulnerableness, from exposure to our depths, and from connection within, to our inner selves.