Tagbelief

Ten reasons against and one reason for

Why should you not submit a story to an editor?

1. The story will be rejected.
2. The editor will hate the story and tell you how bad it is.
3. The editor will hate the story and tell everyone how bad it is.
4. Everyone will now hate the story.
5. All the haters will find your house and tell you in person how much they hate the story.
6. You will have done something/everything wrong in the submission process (wrong editor name, wrong email address, wrong version of story, wrong story, wrong wrongness done wrongly).
7. Your stories are unreadable/unimportant/trite/empty/too much/too little/too long/too short/too hard/too easy/too impossible/too predictable…
8. Real writers thrill to the feel of sending their work out.
9. Lurking terrible monsters are attracted to the sound of a button being clicked, an envelope being licked.
10. The editor will accept it and then people will READ it.

This is only scratching the surface, right? I mean, there are far more reasons not to submit than there are writers, and anxiety tells us that there are so many writers in the world that we shouldn’t even bother, so, yeah, that’s a lot of reasons to turn off the computer, shred the envelopes, and forget all about submitting a story. Trust me, I can outplay anyone when it comes to a game of Why Bother.

But there is one simple reason to hit send, and it has to do with how the sunlight catches your eye in the afternoon, and the way the scent of the ocean wrinkles your nose, and the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard, and the most surprising thing you’ve ever tasted, and how a bird feels perched in the palm of your hand. It’s all about the time you’ve spent daydreaming, and the time you’ve spent writing, and the windows you’ve looked through, and the pattern of freckles on the hands of the woman who sits across from you on the train, or the trains you dream of taking but never have. It’s in the fear and anger and desperation and need and curiosity and sorrow and belief and love, oh yes, the love, that you put into what you write.

There are other reasons, sure, but can we start with this one?

You should submit a story to an editor because you get just one go round as yourself in this life, and that story, that novel, that poem that you put your truth into contains something real of you, of that life lived only by you, and it deserves its shot at being heard.

I believe in you.

The voice you hear

I’ve been thinking about birth lately. There is a point at which a labor outgrows everything you know, everything you read and hear and plan for. It is a frightening space for the woman involved. It is a space of surrender. It is also the place at which everything about you as a person shines through.

It is a place where having someone there who can look you in the eye and say I believe in you and I know you can do this can be the difference between continuing on in fear, or continuing on in faith.

I’ve accepted that support, gratefully, from other people during my own births. I’ve provided that support to other women. It is what we need in birth, and it is what we need in life.

Writers need it too. As I sit here, waiting at the darkest point of the year, when the pines see more of the sun than I do, I’m thinking about what that means, that voice that says I believe in you. I’m thinking about all the times when it feels like the writing is going nowhere, or the story feels too hard to tell, or the novel wants to be written but you know that you may be writing it for yourself alone.

Sometimes it just feels too big to do. Sometimes you want to walk away from it, but everything inside you insists you continue. You skitter around it like a horse crossing water, eyes rolling, convinced it is too deep.

If you’re lucky, there will be a voice coming from across the water. I believe in you, it will say. You can do this.

Listen to it.

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