Life After Voiceworks: submitting for the not-so-young emerging writers
Dear fellow under-appreciated emerging writers,
Editors have it in for us don’t they? They all hate us, I bet. They see our name, wonder who the hell we are without an agent or a spot on the front page every second day and they throw our stories in the bin. This post is for you. This post is especially for the emerging writers with submissions so invisible that editors don’t even read them.
You see, if you’re over 25, your date of birth oozes out of your pores, pollutes the page with old and unaccomplished poison and renders the email or postal submission you sent out basically worthless.
I might be exaggerating – a lot.
But perhaps some of these thoughts did creep into my paranoid head somewhere between the first and last beer I had on the night of my 25th birthday, when my last hope for being published was taken from me with a big fat ‘too old’ stamp on my head.
I had to work out what to do when Voiceworks wasn’t available to me anymore. It’s a great journal for young emerging writers. It’s very open to new work, offers great feedback even when rejecting, and for a journal full of young emerging writers, gets a fair bit of attention. And once you turn 25, it’s hard to find somewhere like it to submit.
Thankfully, my initial thoughts were completely paranoid and there are journals out there that do want to see your work, even if you haven’t been published before. Of course, Ricochet is one of those journals. And worth submitting to coming from someone who is going to be in their third issue.
But I don’t think emerging writers should sell themselves short by only sending work to places that explicitly say they’re open to work from unpublished writers. It might not happen often but the heavyweights like Overland and Meanjin do publish work by unknowns if the work is of the quality they’re looking for.
On the flip side of course there’s no shame starting out in the smaller journals. Places like Ricochet, Page Seventeen, Visible Ink, Verity La, and Wet Ink are all looking for newbies to send them fresh words. See these journals as stepping stones toward greater markets. The name you get, the writing experience and the feedback from these editors can give you the experience you need to increase your chances of getting into the bigger places.
Another way I got a leg up was through experimental projects like Chinese Whisperings and Literary Mix Tapes thanks to eMergent Publishing and Jodi Cleghorn. Through an invite and some amazing editorial support, I’ve seen my work develop and I’m proud of these stories even if they didn’t go through the conventional route of the submission rat race.
There are always these kinds of opportunities coming up. It’s through connecting with writers, whether it be at the Emerging Writers’ Festival or on Twitter, that emerging writers can pool together resources and connections to find all those places wanting to read your work, even if you aren’t some big name.