Lately and Briefly
After much consideration, I have decided to bite the bullet and just submit to magazines instead of packaging up my stories into an anthology. There are two motivating factors for this:
First, I need to get past the hesitation of submitting my work to places that may result in a lot of future pressure on the creation of my art. There’s a scene in Back to the Future that always resonated with me, in which Marty is talking to his young dad and imploring him to get his work published. His dad’s response is very relatable:
When I say “future pressure,” I include not only the pressure that comes with critical acclaim, but also the pressure that comes with rejection. I wrote a whole essay on why I self-published by debut novel, which can be summarized as follows: I wasn’t confident that anyone would want to sell my work (literary agents).
Over time–and through the successes and failures I’ve faced in self-publishing–I’ve come to realize that the real reason I haven’t gone the traditional route nor submitted to any magazines is out of fear of the unknown. Will my stories be well-received? Will they be rejected, over and over again? In the end, why does it even matter?
If the production of my work is satisfying to me, then it doesn’t really matter whether someone else likes it enough to want to print it. Maybe that’s my way of rationalizing away the work involved with packaging up stories and getting them sent out. It’s one of those things that, at 35 years old now, I need to stop worrying about and just do the work.
When I was younger it was easy for me to write off submitting stories to magazines. What if they told me that I was no good? I guess that would be pretty hard for somebody to understand. Now that I’m older and I’m more confident in who I am as a person (which is to say that I value myself purely because I am an individual, which should have always been good enough but it took me a decade of self-reflection to figure myself out), I don’t see submitting to magazines as an exercise in measuring my worth or the value of my work, but rather, one of a multitude of opportunities to share my stories with more people. Nothing more.
P.S. I ended up finding my first-ever published story. I wrote it freshman year of high school (and you can really tell), and, thanks to archive.org, it’s still available to read.