Before I became a pastor and a food trucker, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and taught writing for a season at a college in the Bronx. Before I did that, I went to Yale Divinity School and got my MDiv there.
I write a lot. Every now and then, I submit old or new fiction or poetry to various literary journals. I’ve been doing this long enough to have watched the submissions process change from mostly postal to various electronic formats to the now-standard service at Submittable. I’ve watched the rise of submission fees, and I refuse to pay them. I try to spend more time writing than writing about writing. I’ve had various plan Bs.
There are more journals now than ever. They all say variations of the same thing. Send us your best work. We are picky. We want to highlight emerging writers. And we do, and they are, and they do. At the same time, there seem to be more small presses than ever, which is a good thing. There are also more writers than ever, and here I mean very talented ones.
It is always tempting to start a new journal, edited and curated by me, reflecting only my tastes. It is always tempting to do that, until you realize that means your own work gets pushed further and further to the back.
The key, I think, is persistence.
That’s not a revelation. It may be a reminder.
No matter your vocation, and I really mean this, no matter your vocation, you will be tempted to give up because you’ve tried so hard, so long, because life or people aren’t fair, because the meritocracy has failed, because you hold current tastes in contempt (too much or not enough), because you are too revolutionary or your politics too nuanced.
The key, I think, is perspective. Live your life, take care of your family. Take care of yourself, and let people help.
The rest will come. Or won’t. It’s not up to you or your talent. In the end, it doesn’t matter. There are millions of talented people, and you are probably one of them, whether I know your name or don’t. Bless the people around you. Be talented in that, and build that talent up in you and other people.