Often my writing receives attention because of the writing communities in which I am involved. Because of my submissions, blog posts, comments on writing networking sites, and the personal connections I have established, my name is becoming known enough for editors to read my work within the short story genre, whether or not they accept it.
I’ve read and enjoyed your pieces in other journals so did give your story a quick read anyway.
While the above mentioned story was not accepted, it was, at least, considered.
My goal is to write or edit the best stories possible. However, often there are discrepancies between what I think is “best” and what others find appealing. Thankfully, I have found an amazing set of friends/mentors who encourage me within my writing and editing process, even the “not best” productions. I have made it a point to intentionally reach out and be involved within each of these communities.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I would be remiss not to give a shout out to the best literary community in the world, but I am more than slightly biased as this is the university from which I received not one, but two, graduate degrees. I still keep in touch with several friends/writers from UWM through facebook and email. While attending the university, I had the privilege of reading and thinking about my colleague’s writing, and they encouraged me in mine. If I start naming people, I am sure that I will forget someone, but I do have to say that Liam Callanan (All Saints, The Cloud Atlas) is a fantastic mentor and writer. If the opportunity affords, attending a school with an MA, MFA, or PhD program is rewarding and benefits one’s literary career. A scholastic literary community allows one to directly connect with other writers; although, it is not the only way through which to grow in one’s writing.
Emerging Writer’s Network. While at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful literary folk. Dan Wickett from Emerging Writer’s Network is one of those people. I have been following his blog since 2008 with the hope that he would one day feature my book. However, Dan also became useful when Notes and Grace Notes started marketing Allan’s book, The Butcher and the Breather. Dan allowed me to write a book review and feature some of Allan’s writing on his website: http://emergingwriters.typepad.com/emerging_writers_network/2009/12/holiday-shopping-guide-sarah-joy-freese.html. Online literary communities are (generally) free and require a low amount of commitment. It may take a while to establish connections, but it is worth the wait because once those friendships are made, amazing opportunities are afforded. Still, face-to-face connections are often the most memorable.
Writing Conferences. It has been said that the Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW) is the best writing conference. But there are several others and many more ways in which one can connect with other writers/readers. This year, I am excited about attending both FFW and AWP—a writing conference that will be held in Denver, Colorado. If you are a short story or literary writer, this is the conference to be at! The featured writer is Michael Chabon, so even if you aren’t a short story or literary writer, this is still a conference you need to attend. The journal with which I am currently an associate editor has been established across state lines; I have never met the other editors face-to-face. At AWP, however, I am excited to meet both Harmoni and Allan, editors of Notes and Grace Notes.
Notes and Grace Notes. Harmoni and Allan are the best team for which one could wish. Both inspire me to discover amazing writing and think not just about what Notes and Grace Notes is as a current literary entity, but what it can become. And thanks to them, it is becoming! Because of my experience editing and reading through Notes and Grace Notes, I am growing in my ideas as a writer and a lover of words. I am also able to meet and encourage up and coming writers. Did I mention that Harmoni and Allan are awesome? Still, there are several other literary journals through which one can become involved.
Literary Journals. Again, there are too many to name! Because of the relationships that I have established with writers and editors, mostly through the submission of my own work or reading the work of other writers within the journals to which I submit, I have grown as a writer and a person. Pick a few literary journals to which your writing really connects. If you have any aspirations to be a short story writer, get to know the writers who are published within them. Email the editors and ask for copies of past journals (sometimes you can receive these for free!). Remember that establishing connections takes effort on your part, something that I have consciously determined to do with all of my literary connections, which brings me to my final point.
Email. C.S. Lewis responded to every single letter that he received. While, I am not much of a letter writer, I do believe in the importance of a thank you. Every time I read a book or a short story, if the author is still alive, I write them a thank you email explaining why I liked their book, my favorite character(s), and what their book meant to me at that point in my life. This has allowed me to establish several literary connections throughout the years. It is important to let writers know that you care about their work.
Establishing literary connections has been a fun part of my growth as a writer and an editor, but it’s been a process. I am excited to see where the journey continues to take me, and I am even more excited about establishing new relationships as I continue to learn and develop. Maybe, I can even meet some of you along the way!
Our guest blogger today is Sarah Freese, a young writer and editor who I thought had something interesting to say. Sarah, like me, is a short story lover and an editor. She is going to do a short series of blogs, touching on some topics I think will be of interest.