So I recently went to a talk organised by the English Society’s very own Jack Hession (rhymes with session) on the ins and outs of Irish publishing. Jack was a brilliant host, offering up thought provoking questions to the three guests: Kathy D’Arcy, a prolific poet from Cork; Tom Morris, the writer in residence at UCC this year; and James O’Sullivan, a lecturer at UCC and the founder of New Binary Press. A pretty exciting lineup – and they had quite a bit of wisdom to impart upon us.
Luckily, I came with my trusty notebook and pen in hand, so for those of you who didn’t make it, I’m here to fill you in.
Know where you’re sending your work
You would think this would be something obvious, but when submitting your work to a magazine/journal or publisher, you should really have some knowledge as to what kind of stuff it is they actually print beforehand. Every editor will have a preferred aesthetic or style, and it will be obvious to them if you haven’t bothered to do your research before submitting. Look at what they’re asking for.
Some rejections can be good
It sounds strange, but it’s true – there’s such a thing as good rejections. If an editor takes the time to give you personalised feedback, or encourages you to try submitting again, then you’re definitely on the right track. Even though it’s technically a rejection, be proud of yourself – you made enough of an impact on the editor that they went out of their way to message you especially.
Take feedback/advice on board
If you do get a good rejection, make sure to take their feedback on board. They didn’t critique you for fun – they see potential in your writing, and want you to hone in on it. It’s natural to get a little defensive about your writing, but if you send your work to an editor, don’t be surprised when they edit it! They want to see you engage with what they’ve suggested, even if you don’t agree with some of what they’ve said. Tom actually suggested you “take the feedback and go beyond it” – play with your work, see if you can make it even better, don’t limit yourself and the possibilities of what a piece can be.
Let other people know you like their work
I have “make literature happen” scribbled in my notebook, and it’s probably my favourite piece of advice given. I’m a big believer in artists (of all kinds!) supporting other artists. Collaborate with each other, praise each other, like and share and spread the word about your favourite works. There’s a whole community out there, which is handy because of how solitary writing can be. I love nothing more than discussing work with my friends, or encouraging each other on during bouts of writer’s block, or complimenting my roommate on her amazing sketchbooks. As Troy Bolton would say, “we’re all in this together”, no?