I’ve been submitting like a madwoman. Or, to be more specific, I’ve been doling out my prose (and poetry!) every week or so to a few journals, most of which appear in the page of Best American Essays. (That is my evil plan to attain Fame and Fortune, if not World Domination.)
People advise you to read journals carefully before submitting, but I’m far too lazy to do this. I read a few sample pieces and throw my work out there. I would like to take this moment to apologize to all the editors of experimental fiction who have had to endure my nonexperimental poetry.
Yesterday in my prowling to find a new journal to send my work to I came across a themed submission that I actually related to. Huzzah! Write about washing windows? Why, I used to copyedit for the American Society of Window Washers. I’m pretty sure I can write an essay about washing windows! [Ed. note: the subject wasn’t actually window washing. This may or may not surprise you.]
Then I got to the second paragraph describing what the editors were looking for. “We are interested work that explores the interface between washer and window, cleanliness or dustiness, as it relates to the shaping and reshaping of the window–washer continuum.” Shaping and reshaping. The prose reeks of graduate students.
Yesterday a student and I talked about wordiness. “I’m just throwing words on the page,” she told me after I had delicately hinted (in the subtle way that I have) that possibly she was a bit repetitive. “I’m beating a dead horse here,” she said, “but I wasn’t sure what to say.”
Exactly. She was throwing words at the problem because she wasn’t sure what the right words were. Some poor graduate student thought that “shaping and reshaping” might make him sound smarter or at least hit the mark. Writing is hard. We don’t know what we’re doing. But let’s throw fewer words at the problem and figure out what the fuck we’re actually trying to say.
And now that I’m done being judgmental, should I submit to them?