Dear One Particular Review Editor:
I’m interested in submitting my work to your review, but I have a question. “Previously unpublished in North America”: do personal blogs fall under this umbrella?
We prefer not to publish blogs that have already been “released” in the cyber world.
Dear One Particular Review Editor:
Thank you for your response. I have been publishing my work on a blog for two years in the hope of generating enough material to embark on a career in writing. As you and I both know, a writer must have work appear in journals and peer publications in order to garner the attention of industry professionals, who survey literary journals, magazines, and reviews for emerging voices. It is extraordinarily challenging to break into the literary arena without an agent or backer of some sort.
Blogging for a wide audience can be very rewarding; the immediacy of response is a real rush. But sharing a carefully crafted essay with a small, knowledgeable jury of one’s peers is also very rewarding. In this instance, one approach seems to preclude the other. Can’t they work together for mutual benefit?
I understand that it is important to support journals through readership and by paying fees to have one’s work evaluated. How am I to support a journal that encourages serious writing in one medium, but does not extend welcome to serious writing that appears in another? This reeks of gatekeeping.
Writers want to share their writing. It’s a natural impulse common among many creative people. Artists want to share their paintings; musicians want to share their songs; even cooks want to share their culinary creations. Why? Because we have just created something out of nothing and we feel like sharing some of the joy. The trepidation and triumph are small thrills that quickly become addictive. The shared interaction unites us as people.
Journals take months to read submissions and reply to writers, if they do at all. Many do not, though their submission guidelines imply that they will. How hard is it to create a reusable email draft and copy it into one standard bulk acceptance/rejection message to send at the end of your shift? Just populate the BCC: field with multiple applicant emails and hit ‘Send.’ You’re understaffed? Staff me and I’ll send the damn email for you.
Dear Maybe/If Editors:
I am not a wealthy person, but would you like my support? You can have everything in my wallet. Anything to reward you for your “we will consider previously published work if it sufficiently enchants us or otherwise captures our imagination” policy. Thank you for being open to differentiating between a blog post and a piece of literature as acknowledged and reprinted by an accredited third party. I look forward to enchanting you.
Dear Very Admired Magazine Editors:
This page exists only to provide a point of clarification. I placed it at the end of my essay, because, if the essay makes it this far without being tossed in file 13, you might want to know that:
“Words for Goodbye” has not been previously published by any accredited source. I have, however, posted it on my personal blog, eaterprovocateur.com, which has a readership of about 2; this blog feeds into an associated Facebook page titled Eater Provocateur, which, despite its membership of 137, realistically experiences a much smaller active readership. I am honestly not sure if a blog post is synonymous with “previously published” work – I’ll trust you with that judgment call.
P.S.: Thank you for clearly but gently stating your no reply policy.
P.P.S.: Thank you also for dispensing with query letters altogether. Query letters have always made me feel uncomfortably self-aggrandizing.
Harriet Van Horne said: “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” My blog is a labor of food love, wanton with abandon. I enjoy the malleability and immediacy of the form. I like including images of a relevant and sometimes humorous nature. My blog does not ask me to cloister away writing of which I am usually fairly proud for months at a time with the seldom-delivered promise of response. Like me, the blog is quirky, funny, smart, and – perhaps to its detriment – prone to sudden changes in mood. Most critically, my blog is not the ruminative voice I choose for a particular essay, or my whimsical experience at the Farmer’s Market, or my fondness for cheese. It is a composite whole, amplified. I could stop contributing to it, but I really do not want to, nor do I accept the inference that it will hamper my professional written pursuits.
I remain cautiously optimistic that, one day several years down the road, a plucky agent with total disregard for industry norms will find my blog and experience a small but profound Eureka! moment. If I must choose now, I choose my blog.