We're writers. Sometimes we write because we like it, other times because we hate it but can't NOT write. It's a passion, a release, a journey, a constant discovery. We write because it teaches us about ourselves, and about the world, and lets us show the masses something about ourselves that we never could otherwise, and possibly about themselves, as well.
But aside from those lofty reasons, I would assume many of us have a similar goal: we want to be published. We want to see our name in print, and be able to tell our friends and family, "Hey, go check out my book/essay/poem at this bookstore/magazine stand/website."
Or am I the only only one who would enjoy that?
Anyway, the world of publishing seems almost as vast and confusing to me as the realm of writing, but this much I've picked up: It's easier to get published if you're ALREADY published. Which is an interesting dilimma, of course, but I'm about to make it even weirder.
This September a book anthology called "Gifts II" is coming out. In it, I have an essay--my first thing published that you can actually buy in a store. But here's my problem: it's an essay I wrote mostly in high school, cleaned up a little my first semester of college (long before my Writing Center days), and hastily submitted to an obscure magazine contest I got an email about (if that doesn't sound problematic to you, perhaps your high school essays are better than mine). Not surprisingly, it didn't win. I did, however, get an email from one of the editors, who said that it didn't work for the contest, but it was perfect for an anthology she was going to put together, and wondered if she could hang on to it for the next year and a half, since she hadn't even officially begun accepting submissions yet. I was delighted, and of course, accepted. And mostly forgot about it.
Two years later, while in China, I got an email. "It's been a long time since you submitted this; can we still use it?" Soon after began the editing process, and that was when I groaned. Looking at the essay now, I'd just as soon scrap the whole thing. Not having much time while in China, however, I just made the changes they requested, filled in a few parts that needed major help, and sent it back.
So now it's about to be published, and I could, in theory, put on future submissions that I'm a published writer. But it's something that I wouldn't want any potential publisher to look at as an example of my work. So what do I say? "Shannon Cooley is the author of ______ in ______, but hopes you will never go see it because she's embarrassed to have let something like that slip into the literary world." Probably wouldn't go over too well...
But someone thought it was worth publishing. Does that make poor writing worth claiming? Or should I just be glad it's buried in an anthology somewhere?