Wild world, wild words

Over the past week, I’ve found a great deal of links to websites that list literary journals, as well as a few lists for small presses. This might be of interest to you if you are a writer looking to get your work published.

Apparently it is recommended to publish as much short work as you can in literary journals or literary magazines prior to approaching a publisher. Makes sense. They want to know if your writing appeals to any sort of audience.

My problem right now is that I have a bunch of short stories that are polished up, but many of the more recent ones exceed the 3000-word limit that many lit journals have started to place on submissions. I guess I’m just a wordy person. At this point, I feel that cutting more than 1000 words would take away from the meaning of the story substantially. But maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps I should trim all of my stories to 3000 words or less. It would make them more intense, have more impact in a shorter story. However, I don’t feel I can do that without cutting some substantial portion of the story out. For four of my current six most recent stories, that would be cutting out a quarter or more of the story.

So instead of doing that, I decided to look around for small press publishers who might be interested in publishing a chapbook of short stories. I can’t seem to find this book format anywhere, though, so I must be looking in the wrong places. Aren’t there any western Canadian presses that publish chapbooks of short fiction?

Anyway, since I’ve collected a mind-boggling array of info regarding the subject over the past few days, I thought I’d share it here for anyone who wanted the same things.

Are you looking for literary journals? These pages list what seems like every literary journal imaginable in Canada, the US, Britain and maybe around the world; I haven’t made it through them all yet.

As for small presses, many of the links above also discuss small presses. Here are three links I’ve briefly browsed.

I found 8th House Publishing on the Canlit.ca site and sent them a quick note asking their minimum word count and wondering if they accept short story collections. I didn’t ask intending to submit my work yet. I simply wanted to see if I met the guidelines.

However, I got a friendly response within a day or two of my email, which really surprised me, and the editor told me that my current word count might be too low but I should send along what I have anyway. What?!

I was just looking for some guidelines. The editor’s openess to seeing my work surprised and scared me. I was expecting no response, really. I’ve wrestled with whether or not I should actually submit my work since I read the email yesterday. I mean, I want to put my best foot forward, and while the six short stories I submitted are as edited and polished and finalized  as they will get, the collection is still in early stages. I don’t have a proper order figured out. Three of the stories link around a pair of sisters, two around another girl and then one stands on its own, so there is no discernible thread or theme for the stories. Plus, while the stories of the sisters can stand alone, I feel that they need to star in another couple of stories before I’ve done them true justice.

But I sent it all anyway. I just figured what the hell. I’ve got loads of writing just sitting around, edited and revised, waiting for me to gain some confidence in my work. I’m tired of sending my stories out to literary journals just to be rejected. You’d think the logical step would be to start reworking the writing but since my logic is rarely normal or linear, I decided to submit my work to a publisher because I’m tired of being rejected. My ridiculousness knows no bounds.

Anyway, enough with the self-loathing. It’s done now and I can’t take them back, although I probably would if I could. I guess this is how I learn. I’m just tired of sitting on all my writing and I don’t really know what my next step should be. I should probably take it to a manuscript editor so they can tear it apart and tell me where I need to fix it, but I don’t have the energy or the money to do that.

So there it is. I’ve sent some work to a publisher in a messy, ill-timed, throw-my-shite-on-your-desk sort of a way. I dreamed of submitting my work in a perfectly formatted, beautifully printed, coherent and well-ordered manuscript that will knock the pants off of anyone who reads it. I guess my life doesn’t work that way, though. I live in a wild world full of wild words.

I’m not expecting much but I hope they will at least have the kindness to contact me again to let me know either way, instead of leaving me in the vacuous limo that most journal editors subscribe to since they are such ‘busy people.’

(Having been the editor of a lit journal myself, I have mixed feelings towards editors–while I have bitterness I also have empathy, which makes for a really strange tumult of emotion every time I submit any piece of my writing.)

But hell, I’m not going to quit. I want to do my great-grandfather Ross, Grandpa Ron and Great-Uncle Jack proud. They were all writers, although (Great-grandpa) Ross Annett was the only one I know who had success–real monetary success. Maybe some of it will rub off.

In the meantime, I will just continue doing what I’m doing until I figure out a better way.


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