Reading, writing, and submitting

I have updated The Lemberg Sampler; the featured short poem is now Dualities. I continue to be amazed that I appear to have so much work out that I need a Sampler; most of it is small pieces. I remain very grateful to all the editors who published and supported my work through the years.

I am still reading for An Alphabet of Embers and have so far responded to 1/3 of submissions. Total tally of stories sent is 873 right now. I am on time to send most responses out in October, though it is going to be tight. Lots of strong work here, and the submission pool is very diverse, which is a source of endless happiness to me. If you have been rejected, please do not despair – for a project such as this, fitting with my aesthetics for the project is key, and I am looking for something that is  both very specific and difficult to define. Good markets to try for lyrical short work include Strange Horizons and Lackington’s. Daily Science Fiction has also featured my short lyrical work in the past.

M Sereno writes beautifully about her experience of sending out work as a multiply marginalized writer. Her first sale was to Stone Telling 11, and her first published poem, Seeds, just came out at Strange Horizons; I mentioned it yesterday.

It feels silly to say this; even now I’m warring with myself, telling myself I shouldn’t press that handy link, “move to trash”. I’ve been reading online zines for a long, long time. I used to dream of submitting to them. Then I learned that there were certain kinds of English that meant something, that were valid and legitimate, and yet others that were looked down on, degraded. I tried to fit my writing to the mold of the former. It would be respectable, then.

It didn’t work. Of course. There was no blood in it.

It does not feel silly to me; my work was all “moved to trash” before 2008. I will forever be grateful to Shweta Narayan for helping me through these years. I kept moving things to trash for years after my first sale. If you take a look at my bibliography, you will see that 2014 was truly the first year I stopped deleting and sent out everything I finished. Can you tell which poems I thought were ‘scrap’ poems and which I thought were ‘real’ poems? I don’t think so.

Sending work is difficult. Completing and sending work as a multiply marginalized writer, as an ESL writer, is difficult. Rejections are difficult. Getting acceptances for pieces you almost trashed is difficult. Finding the courage to write in your own voice, rather than trying to fit in with what seems to be the normative/high-prestige/saleable stuff is difficult. Finding a community is a real blessing, a deep breath after years of slow suffocation. Discovering that this community is not monolithic, that here are rifts and conflicts and deep hurt, is difficult on a whole new level.

Don’t lose faith. Keep reading, writing, and submitting.

Yes, there are people who will tell you otherwise, but not me.

One Comment

  1. Likhain says:

    Don’t lose faith. Keep reading, writing, and submitting.

    Thank you for continuing to say this. Thank you for encouraging and believing in writers, for continuing to write and share your voice with us.

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R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards.

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