Climb And Climb Again!


Chicago Botanic Garden, 10/16 (photo by author)

Autumn, glorious autumn. Glorious or not, autumn is not always a time dear to my heart.

Well, it is dear to my heart, my everyday heart that absolutely loves autumn. But not dear to my writer’s heart. And perhaps, writers, you recall or can guess why.

Of course!

We’ve traveled about the sun once again, and it’s that time of year when most lit mags are up and humming, and many, if not most, writers are busy submitting.

I wrote on this topic a year ago, and I like that post a good deal and am linking to it here.

I especially like these paragraphs where I attempted to share both my frustration with submitting with my sense of how important it is that we writers support one another–even more so, ourselves–at this time:

Writers, forget for a moment that 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.”

Today, I stumbled upon this encouraging blog post by editor Joe Ponepinto of the Tahoma Literary Review recounting his experiences with submitting his own work, and how his work as both editor and writer influence one another.

Do check it out; it is reassuring to hear an editor share openly about his own experiences coping with the difficulties of submitting!

An added bonus: Tahoma Literary Review is a lovely, relatively new lit mag that is making real efforts at changing the traditional structure of the literary journal, and how writers and editors interact within that structure.

I found these two excerpts from Ponepinto’s post especially resonant. This one certainly helps one keep perspective:

“As a writer I exist on the other side of that editorial divide as well. I still submit my work to literary journals, and still endure almost daily rejection. It has never been an easy aspect of the writing life to accept. But reading the stories we get has helped me realize something about my fiction. As good as it is (and what writer doesn’t think of his/her work as great?) my stories are merely a cupful in the sea of submissions. There are thousands of writers whose work deserves publication just as much as mine does—I now get to read their stories and see the quality.”

And here are Ponepinto’s urgings that writers view submitting as a given and necessary part of the process of writing :

“Editing has changed how I look at rejection from the writer’s side of submitting. It’s helped me ease the frustration that comes with submission/rejection, and look at it as a process, one as necessary as doing laundry or taking out the garbage (and about as pleasant).”

So, writers, here we are, again. Submitting. Busy with it, at a busy time of year, and all that it entails. Its ups and downs, its ability to not just tire us and displace other activity, but to discourage and undermine, its scariness, risk, and vulnerableness.

And yet, the wonderful declaration of it.

If you are at a point in your writing where you are submitting regularly, you have–unless you are really jumping the gun–achieved a good deal. You’ve written, written more, written again, written better. You’ve revised, revised redux, and revised ad nauseam. You’ve read, compared, contrasted, and tried to detach, as much as one humanly can, from your own work in order to bring a degree of objectivity to your own critique.

And it’s come out–in your mind–on top. You’ve judged it, and concluded that it’s ready to go out. And you’ve cleared the time and space to do submissions. Learned how to do them, correctly I hope, and are continuing to do them.

This is not a small achievement; it’s really quite substantial. Give yourself credit, take care of yourself, congratulations and good luck!

Keep climbing, and climb again!

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