I thought it would be a good idea to commit to National Novel Writing Month this year. It’s been a long time since I dedicated myself to writing–whether taking an online class or working on a publication. I mean I’ve been writing articles/chapters about what it means to be an engaged college and how to teach XML in a content management class, but those don’t feed my soul. The kind of writing I’ve missed doing, is this. Blogs, journals that I can later weave into essays.

Recently, a colleague asked me for my list of journals. He’d seen my sabbatical presentation and remembered that I’d shown my publication spreadsheet, which tracked the journals that I’d submitted an essay to (I tried to maintain 10 active submissions for each essay) and listed potential publications for future essays. Here’s his request:

Dear Becky Jo,
If my memory is any good, your sabbatical report had a very interesting section.
You had compiled a list of presses to whom you had sent your essays.
Of course, the MLA used to publish its list of periodicals, useful for those whose first and second target editors had said, with various courtesies, no thanks; try elsewhere.
I turn to you, because I have an essay that has proven to be an odd fit.  It’s not a sustained treatment of a single work; instead, it’s a survey of the surprising number of novels and short stories whose plot lines run through libraries.
Specifically, I treat the dramatic actions set in libraries as analogs to the stories’ larger concerns.
I no doubt see where I am going with this.  Would you be willing to share your list of publishing outlets?
I’d be grateful.
Yours very sincerely,

He wanted my list. I pondered the request for awhile, collected my thoughts, calmed my snarky self. And when I responded I said this:

When I created my spreadsheet of publication outlets I had spent a lot of time reading other writers’ essays and following their publication trails. In other words, if I read an essay I liked, I’d look at the bio of the person who wrote it then investigate the other journals they’d published in. These would lead me to other possibilities. So my list is a rather eclectic and niche collection of journals that publish flash non-fiction essays. I’m not sure how helpful that list would be to you.
That said, I’d suggest looking at the Poets & Writers database, which should help you identify journals that publish essays in your particular genre. I found the process labor-intensive–most of my time spent researching publication outlets rather than writing–but also kind of fun. It became a sort of game.

He never answered my email, though next time I saw him he told me again about *his* essay and wondered if there wasn’t just the perfect publication outlet for him. I referred him to the Library.

The curating of journals to which I might send my writing takes time. As I read through the list of bios in Diagram’s latest release, I comforted myself with fact that I recognized many–maybe even most–of the publication outlets in which the writers had published. But I also realized that I hadn’t been keeping up. When Role Reboot announced their closure after 9 years, I felt the press of time. Five years ago they accepted my first personal essay, Addicted. Though they changed the title, they gave my essay a home and made me realize I could do this. I’ll be forever grateful.

So I plan to reboot my list, sit my butt in that chair, and set some deadlines for myself. Thank you Anne Lamott for the nudge. See you back here tomorrow.

Next up: why I bought a blog

About BJ

living the dream in northern Utah
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