Hang In There
by Jennifer Paros
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.
~ Pope John XXIII
There is a well-worn phrase: “Hang in there!” It’s meant as encouragement for those of us encountering difficult times. Sometimes it’s even accompanied by a picture of a kitten hanging from a branch. Though the intention is encouragement, the expression doesn’t provide much information. What or where is the there? If we are going to hang, it seems important to find the most stable, reliable, and consistent thing from which to suspend our attention and ourselves. Conditions that are changing and out of our direct control cannot provide stability, and trying to hang onto others makes us dependent.
When we find the details of life distressing, it’s logical to look to the bigger picture for relief; and our potential is as big and forward-looking as it gets. It is part of the landscape yet to be traveled – the part we can feel, but haven’t yet seen. It is expansion **and** destination. Potential is an open door and remains so regardless of any diagnosis, media prediction, failing grade, or boss’s condemnation. Though not mandatorily positive in its promise, it does offer us the best and most of what is possible. There is nothing concrete about potential, but it is real enough to be either nurtured or neglected. It is more important than where we are now, because it is the calling that provokes our evolution.
In understanding our potential, the concept of equality is important. We are equal to the athlete, to the infirm, equal to the one of another color, equal to the starving one, to the rich one, equal to all of life because we are life. The same natural force that gives rise to the stars and planets gives rise to us. Equality is an invisible reality. Its deepest meaning is not about identical circumstances or development; it’s about the same fundamental promise present in each of us. more...
7 Submissions Mistakes Writers Make and How to Fix them
by Nicole Rollender
I straddle both sides of the writing fence, first as a B2B magazine editor and poetry editor for a publishing house, and second as a freelance writer and poet. As a poetry editor who’s looking for manuscript gems in the slush pile, I can’t tell you how important it is for creative writers to follow guidelines, and submit with care. You wouldn’t believe how many submissions are discarded due to these seven submissions mistakes that I (and other editors) see writers make most often. The good news is that I’m also going to tell you what to do instead.
1. Addressing the cover letter to Dear Sirs. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? You couldn’t be more wrong, as this is the editor’s first introduction to you. “Please don’t assume that I’m a man,” says Allie Marini, co-founder of Lucky Bastard Press. “‘Dear Sirs’ makes me want to write back, ‘Did you even look at the staff page, or do you just assume that a man runs the show?’” With so many woman-run presses, Dear Sirs is insulting, especially because most presses clearly list staffers on a masthead.
What you should do: Check the masthead. Address your submission like this: “Dear Jane Smith, Dante Jones and the ABC Press Staff.” Use full names, rather than just first names. Address the top editors and also the genre editor. Remember, “If you’re sending poetry, don’t address it to the fiction editor and vice versa,” says Jordi Alonso, editor of The Whale (thewhalesings.com). And double-check that you’ve spelled all the names correctly.
2. Not specifying what you’re submitting. Many journals and presses set up their submission systems so that you must choose where your submission goes: to your chosen genre, to a specific contest, or to a general themed category. Others don’t. Even so, it’s a mistake not to specify what you’re submitting your work for in the cover letter. For example, Carly Joy Miller, co-founder of Locked Horn Press, wishes that writers would mention what genre of piece they’re enclosing and if they’re a past contributor. “It saves us a lot of legwork, guesswork, and Googling when we need to assign submissions out [to our readers],” she says.
Possessiveness That Works
by Cherie Tucker
Anyone who was taught by the nuns knew that “you always use the possessive with a gerund,” the -ing form of a verb used as a noun. And for those of you still scratching your head, the underlined words here are gerunds:
Seeing is believing.
Dieting wasn’t easy this time.
It was hard for her to quit smoking.
Gerunds are names of things, even though they look like verbs, which are actions (write, publish, retire).
The following sentences with gerunds illustrate why the nuns were so adamant about using possessives with them.
The manager threw the team a party because of them breaking a two-week losing streak.
The manager threw the team a party because of their breaking a two-week losing streak. more...
Hunger Pangs: A Writing Career Launched with Food
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
I often thought, in my younger years, that it would be an easy thing to be a writer. I had the ideas; I had the imagination. All I had to do was put pen to paper, as one would say in the pre-computer era. And why not? Others did it. In fact, some authors pushed out novels, bestselling novels at that, at an amazing rate.
I joined authors’ groups and listened intently (and slightly in awe) as some of the members read from their published books. I felt insignificant, almost fraudulent. How could I claim to be a writer if I hadn’t published anything? If I hadn’t published any books?
I tried to boost my self-esteem by telling others that I was a writer. “What books have you published?” people asked. When my answer was “None,” they quickly stopped asking about my writing career.
I have to admit that my first attempts at writing were futile and didn’t amount to anything. I was in a hurry, frustrated with my attempts to keep up with the progression of ideas flowing through my mind. I changed focus, countless times, until the plot had so many tangents and so many secondary characters that even I, the author, was lost.
I took some writing courses and attended workshops, but I couldn’t shake this feeling of inadequacy. Who was I fooling? A writer has to have something published to demonstrate his or her prowess as a writer, right? Was I justified calling myself a writer if I was only an unpublished writer? more...