I’ve been looking at my list of current submissions out to various literary magazines. Duotrope has a handy feature that indicates when a submission has been out for longer than usual, and so it might be a good idea to follow up with editors and check in on the submission.
I will definitely not do that.
As an editor, I don’t mind getting those follow-up emails. It’s a reminder to me to stay on top of the work and do right by the authors who submit. But as an author who is also an editor, I know the kind of anxiety that that follow-up, as kind as it may be, can cause. This isn’t to say that authors shouldn’t follow up; they definitely should, especially if they think that the submission has been lost somehow, or they’ve had other correspondence with the editors.
But I’ve very rarely sent a follow-up; I know that the editorial team of whatever magazine I’ve submitted to is doing their best to get through all the submissions. In this current pandemic world, it feels like sending that follow-up would be an extra layer on top of the underlying thrum of despair that this whole situation is causing.
It does make me think about what creative writing and publishing might look like when this is all over. Online journals, and free/cheap ebooks are helping the world get through their isolation. It seems that everyone now understands the value of artists and the work they produce. And I can only hope that the positive changes will remain. That accommodations and accessibility services disabled writers and readers have been hoping for (virtual events, subtitles on everything, more audiobooks, to say the least) will remain. That people will continue to understand why we need funding for the arts, so it won’t be the first thing on the chopping block when budgets are being made and remade.
And as a writer, I must think not only about how to adapt to that new publishing reality, but also think about how to be part of the movement that helps those positive changes remain. What can I do as a writer? What can I do as an editor?
Right now, as a reader, I can share some things I’ve been enjoying recently that are available for free online.
Mineral Lit Mag recently released a Hozier-themed issue; if you love that man’s music as much as I do, you’ll really enjoy these poems: https://www.minerallitmag.com/issue-15-hozier-inspired.html
“Welcome to Iowa: Letters to Carp and Other Immigrants” by my MFA colleague Kartika Budhwar came out a few months ago in Blue Mesa Review and it is gorgeous. https://issuu.com/bluemesareview/docs/bmr_issue_40_issuu/50
This piece by Mary Annaïse Heglar, “We Can’t Tackle Climate Change Without You,” which has struck the perfect balance between individual action and pushing for larger, systemic change: https://www.wired.com/story/what-you-can-do-solve-climate-change/
Header image from 2016.