Publication isn’t the only goal for a writer. The very idea of getting published can actually get in the way of the process. I’ve seen students derailed by the critical editor in their mind’s eye and stopped in their tracks by rejection.
I urge my students to keep focused on the project at the end of their fingertips and their heart in the story they want to tell. Isn’t that what brought them to the page in the first place? Publication is not the measure of success, just one measure. In fact, lately I’ve been encouraging my students to consider submitting their work to storytelling festivals and spoken word events because more people will be exposed to their work. (A recent slew of literary journal rejections in my own working life has opened this up for me and I’ll be blogging about that soon.)
That said, publication happens. And when it does, it does feel very confirming. Sometimes it’s about the right topic sent to a publication just at the right moment. Sometimes it’s about writing something with a specific publication in mind. Sometimes it’s about sheer determination, sending the piece out again and again until an editor bites.
So I want to acknowledge the writers I’ve worked with — in my workshops or privately – for whom publication has, indeed, happened. It is very exciting to see one’s work land on the page or screen, or on the radio. But most importantly, I think, is the simple and delicious experience of having one’s words seen and heard, and the magic that can come from a good, dynamic workshopping process.
My congratulations to current and former students for these well-earned bylines:
“What Needlecraft Gives Me,” More Magazine
“A Father’s Fourth of July,” WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio
“Four Down: To Caress. Six Letters. Starting with an S,” Blood Orange Review
“It’s Never Too Late: A Northbrook Woman Volunteers for the Israeli Army: At 74”
North Shore Magazine
(published January 2009 – magazine is no longer available online.)
Judy Panko Reis
Watch for “Pele and Me,” by
in a forthcoming issue of Shambhala Sun
Photo by Ellen Blum Barish