Message in a Bottle

Posted by in Stuff About Writing

I made a plan to not only write this year, but get that writing published. And, in order to get published, you have to let other people, other people who don’t know and love you, read what you wrote. (Scary!) Not only do they not know and love me, but they are pretty good at this whole writing thing, and they are picky and snobby and judgy. (I’m not being a jerk saying that, it’s their job!)

So. I’m terrified. But I was telling this to a friend, telling her that I had been doing a lot of writing but didn’t have any guts to send it anywhere. (It is very possible that I said “balls” and not “guts,” I hope I said guts though, I really do.) And unlike everyone else who I’ve told that to, who have told me how wonderful I am, and how much they love my writing, said “You should get some.”

And it clicked.

It’s not about my writing being wonderful, and everyone’s cup of tea, and the whole world loving my stories and wanting to give me buckets of money. It’s about me being brave. My goal for 2016 isn’t to get published – which I have little control over, it’s to try to get published – which is something only I can do.

So, I’ve been compiling a list of literary journals and magazines that I think would fit me and last week I sent my first story to 4 of them. This week I sent it to 5 more. I have enough places to send it to 5 places per week for the next 10 weeks. Then I can just wait. Most journals say that they have a 4-12 week waiting period, so I’m doing everything I can to not think about all of the rejections that are heading my way.

I thought that sending out my manuscript was going to be like sending my children to school for the first time. My story, like my child, being something that I created and built so lovingly, so carefully. The fear of having something so precious to me, our of my sight, out of my control. Worrying that someone else was making decisions in the interest of my child. Worrying that they would be okay, and make it back home to me.

But, it’s not. It’s not about safety, but connection. I have every confidence that my children are worthwhile, are precious and darling. I don’t feel the same way about my writing.

It’s more like sending out a message in bottle. I feel anxious, not that my manuscript will be harmed, or not returned to me in the proper condition, but that it will be returned to me at all. Do we speak the same language? Will anyone get it? Will they understand what I’m trying to say? If they do get it, will the message be worth trying to get back to me? Do I have enough to say that I’m worth saving?

So I sit here, two weeks in, with nine bottles floating in the ocean, and boxes of empties beside me waiting to be tossed into the waves.