I figured I’d go the approved path with my writing: write some short stories, submit them to journals, get noticed by an agent/publisher and then release a book. I suppose everyone thinks this way. Self-publishing is still too new to be the dream.
But submitting to journals sucks.
Let me preface my complaints by saying I’ve had a little success here and appreciate the hell out of the places that have published me. You are awesome and I was super excited when you gave me the good news and I’m still super excited now.
And I’ve not exactly self-published Scenic Utah. It’s Remedy Inkorporated, but that’s not exactly the same as Penguin. I’ve had a lot of help from Remedy Ink, but also, I’ve done a lot of this myself. DIT: do it together.
It’s a crapshoot. Everyone says, “read our journal, so you’ll know what we’re looking for.” But the truth is, you look at something and you don’t know what their “voice” is and you certainly can’t separate yourself from you own work enough to figure out if you belong there. The best you can come up with is, “Huh. These guys do pretty good work. I like them. Maybe they’ll like me.” It’s like trying to bang someone, only more honest. You throw something out there and hope they find you attractive (seriously, though, do you find me attractive? Will you eat dinner with me? Can you see yourself loving me someday if you squint really hard?).
It’s daunting and terrifying and there’s a lot of noise out there even if you do get published. Then what separates you from the next Midwestern heartbreak and violence aficionado with a lost sense of identity? Not much. And even if you are different, does it matter?
What I probably should have done is this: finished college and networked that way. That’s better than walking into the bookstore and being all like, “Ahhh, I wrote this book, wanna read it? No, I haven’t bought anything here in the last year. Sorry doods. I’m not exactly poor, but not exactly rich either and the library is free. Yes, I see the irony of selling books when I myself don’t buy books, really. So, that’s a hard maybe? Cool.”
In the one creative writing course I took in college, the professor asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I responded with, “This,” having not thought a ton about it before, but writing made me feel alive and I was super into it in that moment. He responded with, “Cool, but you’ll probably have to teach or something too because no one makes money in this shit.” If he’d just given me the dreamer’s advice of, “Network and it’ll work out. You’ll need class. You’ll get published. A certain sort of chick will go apeshit for you, but you’re gonna have to be okay with the fact that she’d fuck Philip Roth on his deathbed too.” Instead I was all like, “Fuck this, I can get a separate non-writing job now and not go into deep financial ruin, fuck you old guy. The old system is broke. LOL Anarchy.”
And now, here I am, writing this blog post, praying someone will read it so that someone will read my book. LOL Anarchy.