Odds & Ends: Paying the Price

Posted on 03 June 2014

When losing is really winning. First, that beautiful hardcover lit mag you see to the left is the latest issue of Tampa Review, which includes my short story, “Q&A at the Film Fest.” For anyone out there who enters the occasional literary contest but feels disheartened by not winning, let me share that I submitted “Q&A at the Film Fest” not through Tampa Review‘s regular submission process, but as an entry for their Danahy Fiction Prize. My story was named a finalist but did not win. A few months later, however, the editors contacted me to say they hadn’t forgotten my story and wanted to publish it. So it seems that sometimes contest entries, even if they don’t win, really are accepted for regular publication from time to time. (And in this case, since Tampa Review pays contributors, I recouped my original contest entry fee in the process.) Just a flash of hope for everyone out there getting the “Thanks, but sorry” emails after entering contests.

The path to double publication. Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State is a dark, compelling, gripping, risky, and difficult novel. I loved it. I read it in two days, and it only took that long because I forced myself to slow down and not stay up all night finishing it. Some of you may be aware that she has an essay collection, Bad Feminist, out later this summer. Two books in one year? Damn straight. Check out her thoughts on having it all come together in the same year, and how she worried for a time that And Untamed State might not find a publisher at all: Two Damn Books: How I Got Here and Where I Want To Go.

Paying the price. In The Cost of a Dream, Kim Treidman keeps it real in her discussion of how much it really costs — in money, time, isolation, even humiliation — to pursue the dream of writing and publishing. As she says, her story is not for the faint of heart: “So now for the big question – the one you’ve all been waiting for: am I going to make money on this book? Hell, no. Have the emotional benefits of getting the book out there made it all worthwhile anyhow – seeing the cover, receiving the first advance copies, doing the readings and interviews and public appearances? No, no, no. While there are aspects of all of these that bring joy and affirmation and celebration, I have to say that in the grand tally none of these benefits comes even close to the costs.” But don’t worry. The piece ends on a slightly higher note.

On literary vs. commercial. The New York TimesDraft” series, which explores the art and craft of writing, has some interesting opinion pieces. I enjoyed reading this one, A Master’s in Chick Lit, about a published commercial author who entered an MFA program and subsequently dulled her voice and the excitement in her writing in the name of Literary Art (capital L, capital A). Even though this isn’t my experience in my MFA program — we encourage everyone to pursue and honor their inherent voices and skills, and to write what they want, and we never promote boring writing in the name of so-called literature — this was still entertaining and also a little depressing.

Dust in the wind. Did you know that we’re all going to miss almost everything? And that’s okay.

Open for business. Frustrated that so many lit mags seem to close shop during the summer months? Here’s a handy list of journals that are open to submissions during the summer months.

A keep-it-short competition for poets and fiction writers. I’m happy to be on staff at a literary journal that remains open to submissions during the summer months — and those online submissions are always free. But if you don’t mind a small entry fee for the chance to enter a top-notch contest, then Mid-American Review‘s Fineline Competition for flash fiction, prose poems, and anything in-between (as long as each piece is 500 words or under; no line breaks for poetry) has been extended through June 15. So send us your short pieces. First prize is $1,000; the winner and some finalists will be published in our special 35th anniversary issue. The entry fee for each submission of three pieces is only $10 — that’s fairly low for a contest with a $1,000 grand prize.

A blog is born. Finally, I’m happy to announce that Mid-American Review‘s new website and blog are up and running. Here’s an interview I conducted with our editor-in-chief, Abigail Cloud. She offers excellent insight and was a really good sport about everything — even when I asked her to describe the publication in 10 words or fewer and to make it rhyme. Check it out!

 


7 responses to Odds & Ends: Paying the Price

  • margosita says:

    The link to the Fineline Competition is broken- or rather, it just directs to the NPR article about missing almost everything. Is that a hint? ;) I do have a piece of flash fiction that needs a home, though!

    • I fixed the link! Sorry about that. I clearly have a limit on how many links I can include in one post without getting something mixed up. And good luck with your flash piece!

  • Teri says:

    There is no way AN UNTAMED STATE wasn’t finding a publisher. It’s got everything. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win the National Book Award.

    • amyg says:

      i haven’t even read it yet, but it definitely has that NBA feel in a Jesmyn Ward kinda way.

      off to read THE COST of a DREAM…thank you Laura for being a supreme curator of all things literary!!

  • So delighted to learn about your TAMPA REVIEW success. The story sounds fascinating, too. Congrats!

    And I also loved Roxane’s post, and that Draft piece. Glad to see them getting more readers.

  • I was fortunate to meet Roxane last summer at the Midwest Writers Workshop and had a ms critique with her. Probably the high point of my entire freaking year was when I walked in the room and she told me the pieces were hilarious and that her first thought upon reading them was that “Wow, this woman can write!”

    *swoon*

    She published three of them in The Rumpus. Now, all I need is for the rest of the publishing world to agree with her. *sigh*

    • Well, Roxane Gay clearly knows her stuff! And don’t worry…the rest of the publishing world will catch up. They’re just really slow. I mean, the fact that Roxane’s novel got a bunch of rejections proves the point. Good luck!

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