I'm a writer because I have stage fright.
Literary magazines are like literature; they cause writers to be hopeful, perturbed, and humble. As I submit my work, I try not to think of the inevitable rejections that will come my way. I try to think of the one magazine that will say “yes, we want your story” and then it will be all worth it. I know rejection is needed, healthy, and even sometimes no fault of my own, but it never gets easier for me.
I pray a lot during this time. I am not a patient person. I try not to get too hopeful when I see emails from the magazine.
It’s kind of like a first kiss. There’s a lot of build up, a lot of expectation. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of it all, though, it’s something you question if you really want to do again. There are sloppy parts, awkward mistakes, and even that occasional disgusting part that you weren’t expecting and never want to experience again. Yet, you find yourself puckering up in the future anyway, hoping for that one smoldering smooch.
I want to become a better writer. I know the editors and assistant editors and judges and volunteers at these magazines are overworked, underfunded, and owe me nothing. Yet I have faith that one day, before a student reader puts me in the slush pile, they’ll notice something special and glimmering in my manuscript that they’ve never experienced before. They’ll take a second longer to read my work and it will resonate with them. They will advocate for me and their managing editor will look at it. The managing editor might even longlist it. It might make it through the final round. Or it might not. But my work will have made an impact on someone and that’s all I really want in the end.
Who knows? They might even consider my work first the next time it comes in the mail.