The first time I submitted a piece of writing for consideration in a publication, I was 13. I sent a poem to a local lit mag, very tiny thing it was, and I won some prize or other for my age group. I was hooked.
Since then, I have periodically sent off my poems and essays and had some published in newspapers, magazines, online sites, and even a day planner. The great majority have been summarily rejected, which I understand is the way the world works, not just in the publishing world but also the realms of employment, dating, even gardening; a sizable chunk of the desires we pursue and the projects we design do not take root. I took some good advice a long time ago and started a “Rejection Slip Collection,” so that every new one I receive is a successful addition to my folder. I see my moment of triumph being when the envelope slips into the mailbox slot, signifying that I have overcome my internal naysayer, who thinks that I have nothing of any import to add to the universe, and I’ve gone ahead, spoken my mind and submitted it for approval anyway.
But in the last few months that I’ve been blogging, I approach my submissions with a new attitude. I do not feel as desperate to be accepted by an editor. Sure, it would be wonderful to have the stamp of approval of a power player in the field, to see my name in the lights of the published word, but now, worst case scenario, I post my words on my blog. There feels to be just as much chance for them to be read on the internet, where someone might be inspired to comment and thus make a personal connection with me, as there is for them to read me on the page, where the following silence would ring in my ears.
I can feel the power of the internet, the autonomy it gives us as readers and writers, the independence from the whims of the editor. This can be a bad thing, as any old rot can appear “in print” online for the world to suffer through, or most likely ignore. And I do not want to be misunderstood as disparaging the word that nestles itself on a piece of paper, because anyone who knows me is certain that one of my favorite circumstances is to be surrounded by books. But as a plan B, when no one in a position to validate my voice chooses to do so, the fact remains that I cannot be silenced.
And neither can you.