This past month, I’ve been frantically working. I’ve been keeping a log of literary acts; a log of exercise, food, and meditation; and a reading and writing log. I’ve stopped taking long naps and started sitting at my desk, no matter what. Goals! I can meet them. I have been on a roll.
Then Monday came. That’s when I posted three entries to Fairy Tale Review’s Twitter contest. I watched. I read through the entire feed. Obsessively. I could not stop. The entire day.
After looking through all of the tweets, it dawned on me that I have not worked on a literary magazine since I read submissions for Creative Nonfiction several years ago. I was reminded of what the slush pile is really like. It may have been the medium and character limitation of Twitter, but many of the writers had typos or stilted language. Many of the pieces fell flat. A few were good but had problems with rhyming or word choice. Most felt like first drafts. There were, at most, a handful of submissions that struck me as really interesting and engaging.
Of course, I had never forgotten what being a reader or editor is like, but I certainly hadn’t been given such a good example lately. At a time when I am feeling discouraged because I haven’t published a full-length book and can’t really even begin interviews for professorships, I found this look at submissions refreshing. It reminds me that I need to keep writing, and I will improve. If I keep editing, my work will be stronger. If I keep submitting to contests, one day my entry won’t just be in the top handful. It will be at the top.
The results of the contest still haven’t been announced, but, even if I do not win, I am grateful to have witnessed the Fairy Tale Review’s submission process.