A Guide for Women Seeking Publication

by | Jul 29, 2023 | And Now

1. Your readers will assume every fiction is non-fiction about you. Readers believe your daydreams are full of dishes, laundry and blowing your husband so he doesn’t leave you and your two German Shepherds. You are merely a stenographer, a husk with no inner life. There is no world outside your lived experience.
2. If you write the perfect story, it’s because it actually happened. If you write the worst story, it’s because it actually happened. Write something mediocre and they’ll decide that might be fiction.
3. Write what you know. This actually refers to the feelings behind a piece, not necessarily the plot. However, if you then perform this piece with any competency, it will be assumed it’s your lived experience and you will be judged accordingly. No success is considered the providence of hard work. Hard work is for men. Cis women are only for growing humans and then pushing a football out of a hole that very recently was only an inch long.
4. If you’re assigned a male editor, be prepared to teach the fundamentals of being a woman. Get ahead of the depressive quality of explaining the precarious situation of your existence by scarfing fistfuls of Godiva chocolates you picked up at the mall as an acceptance treat. (This is what women did before Lexapro.) Has he ever met a human woman before? It’s hard to say.
5. Write about women and get called “domestic” or “women’s fiction.” When men write about the same topics, they call it “literature.” Never show any displeasure about your pigeonholing. They let you publish your little stories, don’t they? What more could you want?
6. In fact, never complain about anything. Complainers attract the wrong kind of attention and someone will deny your submission later because of it. You’ll never know who blackballed you. Rumors will reach you, though.
7. Write about women of your experience and get called one-note, as well as contributing to the idea that you can only write about yourself. Write about women outside your experience and get called out for appropriation. Write about a man and you might finally win an award with some money attached!
8. Be sure to express your shock at the publication of a story that you spent years perfecting. You know about the decade you spent honing your craft to become “an overnight success,” but no one else does. Even the editors that published your early stories don’t remember your name or the story they published. Feeling good about your work is gauche and unbecoming in a woman. If you are anything other than humble, they will gather the insults used against them and turn them on you. If nothing else it will feel strange, like accidentally selecting a stranger’s black peacoat instead of yours off the bed at a party. You’ll notice the error, but until then a dysphoria will blanket you.
9. Should you become marginally successful, men will pat themselves on the back for having read you. Other women will resent you for “making it.” They’ll never see the men you didn’t marry, the children you didn’t have, the jobs you were too busy to take, the money you never make. The millions of things you let go when you dedicated yourself to this thing that no one appreciates. Those nights when you wonder whether you made the right decisions. If you could start over and make different choices, would you? During lulls you’re haunted by these questions. And then the next story idea comes.
10. Read the submission guidelines.

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