After several weeks off — in theory to ski with my kids on Tuesday evenings — I am back at Writing Lab. Today we talked about publication, a word I can never hear without the palimpsest of Emily Dickinson’s “Publication is the Auction — / Of the Mind of Man…”
Auctions aside, I believe publication is a necessary step (notice I am not calling it “a necessary evil”) in a writer’s evolution. We write for ourselves, to start with. We gradually begin to write for our teachers, our friends, our families. If we stay on the path long enough, we probably consider sending a poem or an essay or a story to a complete stranger. I had the benefit of a poetry mentor — Professor Nelson Bentley — known to exclaim, “Send this out immediately to some lucky editor!” Even so I found that the mere consideration of such an act challenged me to take my writing to another level. What’s a dull line or two when your friends love you?
Several lab members are new at this, so we started with a modest assignment: Find one website to share. You might begin by Googling a journal or small magazine you sometimes read. If you don’t read journals that publish the sort of work you’d like to publish, now’s a good time to begin. To find them, you could look in a book of poems by someone you admire to find out where that person has been published. They don’t have to be the high-priced ones that the big bookstores carry. Check a smaller newstand or a neighborhood bookstore for local publications.
Of course writing blogs often include links to journals. If you have a favorite, let us know and we’ll check it out. Meanwhile: you might read this advice from The Review Review: “What Editors Want.”