Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Get Published, Part 4: Reasons to Send Work Out Other Than Getting Published

O.K., I know this series of blogs was supposed to be about getting published. But the reality is that there is a crucial reason to send your work out that is only peripherally related to seeing your writing in print or on the Internet.

When you’re preparing to send your work out, your eyesight as an editor of your own writing suddenly becomes incredibly sharp. Why? Because you're putting yourself in the shoes of a potential reader of your work, rather than looking at your writing the way a dog looks at its owner. This objectivity is something we strive for constantly as writers, but most of us only achieve it sporadically. When you think about sending out your work, you scrutinize your writing with that objective glance that is so hard to find.

In fact, I would say that I never see my work with as much clarity as I do the moment after I press SEND for an electronic submission, or the moment after I drop a manuscript in a mailbox.

Don’t lose that precious moment of sharp-focus objectivity. Even if you’ve just sent your work to a publisher—especially if you’ve just sent your work to a publisher—capture that second of cold honesty to help you rewrite the work you just sent out. The mistake that you glimpse right after you hit SUBMIT or as the envelope irretrievably slips into the mailbox out of your reach is exactly the one you want to correct. Don’t worry that the publisher you just sent it to won’t experience the revised version. You can always change the text later if it gets accepted.

Meanwhile, you’ve been granted a sort of divine omniscience, if only for a split second, as if a magician had momentarily conferred on you a temporary superpower in the middle of your local post office. Put your trust in that sharp vision. Don’t waste the opportunity. After all, the goal is not only to get published. Yes, maybe in the long run, but in the short run, your job as a writer is to finish the pieces you are working on as well as you possibly can. If you do that part well, publication will follow in the fullness of time.

Other recent posts on writing topics:
How to Get Published: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout
Putting Together a Book Manuscript
Working with a Writing Mentor
How to Deliver Your Message
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?
Why Write Poetry? 
Poetic Forms: IntroductionThe SonnetThe SestinaThe GhazalThe Tanka

Praise and Lament
How to Be an American Writer

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