Dear people who cross the digital expanse and pray their submitted work gets in,
You are the champions of the literary world. If you do not view yourself as “equal to” or “greater” than the literary magazines you support, then you are looking at this culture all wrong. What is a magazine without its submitters? What does it really mean to submit?
Let’s look at the definitions of “submitting” for a moment:
v. sub·mit·ted, sub·mit·ting, sub·mits
1. To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.
2. To subject to a condition or process.
3. To commit (something) to the consideration or judgment of another.
4. To offer as a proposition or contention: I submit that the terms are entirely unreasonable.
(Courtesy of http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Submitters)
If applied to writers, the first definition imagines the submitter as a small kingdom who yields to an empire greater than itself. So, by this definition, writers are lesser than and must abandon themselves and their values for what they perceive as the greater good. Of course, by obeying the empire, these writers can bring glory and fame to their name.
That’s a disgusting perspective to have, but we’ll continue.
The second definition is more appropriate, though it seems to waylay the emotional ability writers have and need to submit their work. It is not just a “condition” or “process.” This definition forgets that it’s a love for the work. It’s a respect for the work. Therefore, it’s a love, respect, and need for the writer.
As the fourth definition doesn’t seem truly applicable, the third definition ascends to be our best bet. Writers committing (prose or poetry or artwork or photography) to the consideration or judgment of a magazine. Consideration seems to have a more positive connotation than judgment. Yet, while this is the most salient definition of “submitting” for the writer to bear in mind, the question for all writers to consider is “Does this magazine have the authority to judge my work?”
I will be the first to say that literary magazines do not and should not carry the pomp they brag of. The word “magazine” comes from the French word magasin, which translates to “storehouse.” Does the word translate to “publication that reaps the benefits of its contributors and is more important than them”? No.
Moreover, a storehouse must be filled with goods to function. Without the goods, there would be no storehouse. However, without a storehouse, the goods cannot be distributed. Nonetheless, I believe the ones who share their goods with the world are the better people at the end of the day.
Do I contradict myself by posting a shameless advertisement of Yorick as the picture in this post? No. It’s my job to shamelessly advertise my magazine. It’s a storehouse for crying out loud. How else are Greek citizens going to know to come here for their oil and fleece skeins?
I’ve talked with several individuals in the immediate literary community who are committed to caring for submitters. Jeremiah Walton, of Nostrovia fame, is continuously working to create projects like The Traveling Poet so that writers have more opportunities to be heard. Brittany Wright and Richard Barnhardt at The Gap-Toothed Madness have created a newsletter for their submitters and contributors detailing new ways to submit work. It’s magazines like these that appreciate the writer.
So, submitters: you are not the worthless creatures you believe yourselves to be. You are not the mercenaries who struggle to make a living by providing service to an emperor. You are the artifacts that the acolytes struggle to collect. Some artifacts are undiscovered, some are found and made public.
Whether admitting it or not, the acolyte, a wretch in torn cloth, dreams only of finding the best.