Oh, what a surprise. You’re “declining” to publish my story. Or, here’s an even bigger surprise: you’re publishing my story for the exposure. I’m so glad I invested in that three dollar submission fee.
In twenty-five years of writing and submitting fiction to countless literary magazines and reviews I have had seven stories published. I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize once. I have been paid nothing for any of my work. Now some of you, many of you, are asking for a fee for me to submit my work to your next-to-never-heard-of darling of a literary magazine.
I’ve begun publishing my fiction and essays on Medium and check this out: people read my stories. They like my stories and say so. And, this is going to shock you, I get paid to publish my work on Medium. Yes, for the first time in my life I am earning money for my own writing.
There was a time when I accepted rejection as the price of being a creative person in a capitalist world. Like so many other writers, artists, musicians, actors, and other makers, I even bragged about yet another rejection. I once hung my many rejections on the wall. Sad.
Then I began to wonder if maybe I’m a bad writer. Maybe my stories suck. After all, not one of you has shown any interest in publishing my work since 2014. If I had any talent for this writing thing one would think that someone in the past five years would have published something of mine. One would think.
I’m not saying I’ll never submit my work to another literary journal, but I am saying that when you send those form letters ( “We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately this submission was not right for us”), keep in mind that we don’t need you anymore. Let that sink in for a minute.
I don’t need you.
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