My mother encouraged me to Dream Big. My father, to believe I could make those dreams come true.
I enjoyed storytelling even before I learned to write. After spending the greater part of my academic career reading through the literary canon, I was inspired to compose my own poems and short fiction. Writing nonfiction played a profound role in helping me overcome the loss of my father and regain a sense of control when I was struggling with anxiety and post-partum depression. I had quite the portfolio built up over the years, but I only recently attempted to get my creative work published.
Take a Writing Class
When I realized I was interested in writing for children, I wanted to learn more about the genre. My undergraduate and graduate courses in English literature had not prepared me for writing picture books, middle-grade fiction, or young adult novels and I was right to assume I still had a lot to learn! I continued my education with a “Writing Children’s Fiction” course offered through George Brown College. The instructor, Ted Staunton, a celebrated Canadian author, empowered me and my classmates to tackle the genre with enjoyable assignments and class discussions.
Reading your work out loud and receiving constructive feedback, although terrifying at first, is an invaluable step in getting your draft ready for submission.
Join a Writer’s Critique Group
A great way to learn about contest and submission opportunities as well as to receive feedback on your work is to join a Writer’s Critique Group. I found an online group on Facebook, Write Around the Block, which is an amazing group of talented and supportive writers. Members are active every day, sharing new opportunities, celebrating little wins and commiserating setbacks. The group also offers an accountability partner match-up where you can check in with your assigned partner to set and work towards weekly writing goals.
Use an Online Submission Platform
Using a free, online submission platform is an easy way to find the right journals for your work and to keep track of your acceptances, rejections and active submissions. I use Submittable and have been very happy with my experience so far. Their “Discover” section organizes opportunities by deadline, but you can also mine through results with tags pertaining to your work. You’ll know when a journal is considering your submission and will be emailed one way or another once they’ve made a decision.
Prepare to be Rejected
Receiving a rejection gets a whole lot easier once you make your peace with the idea that you’re bound to be rejected, again and again. To quote one of my favourite New England Patriots, Julian Edelman, “There are only two things you can do when someone tells you you’re not good enough: Prove them right, or prove ’em wrong“.
You could give up on a piece because you received a few rejections, or you can revise, resubmit and prove ’em wrong by getting it published.
Revise, Revise, Revise
Speaking of revising… make an effort to share your work and incorporate feedback throughout your revisions. Feel like your beta readers are wrong? Save a draft of your work and in a new file make all of their suggested revisions. You can always go back to your first version but in my experience, it will rarely be the case. While working through the constructive feedback, you’ll think of new ways to improve your work and will almost always end up with a much stronger draft.
Give yourself some time in-between major revisions to return to your work with a fresh perspective and remember, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story”.
Twitter is another great spot to discover exciting submission opportunities, contests, mentorships, and conferences. Find the active community of writers on Twitter by following the hashtag #WritingCommunity. While you’re there, connect with me @SMartimianakis.
Search for the Right Journal
The most important advice I can give, other than to believe in yourself, is to find the right spot for your work. Reading through past issues of a journal is a good place to start. Sometimes a journal’s next issue will be a themed one, so it’s important to carefully read through their most recent call for submissions. Finally, don’t forget to adhere to a journal’s submission guidelines! It’s silly to work hard on a submission only to get rejected for not following a journal’s clearly laid out submission guidelines.
Celebrate your Wins
When you find the right home for your work and receive the acceptance you’ve been waiting for, celebrate! Take the moment in and give yourself a chance to feel proud of your achievement before returning to your ongoing projects. Share the good news with family, friends and fellow writers. Why is it easier to dwell on hardships than to bask in moments of joy?
Life is too short to not celebrate your wins!
My Recent Publications
Pink Lady Chaleur Magazine
When the Tsunami Crashed Toho Journal Issue 1
Cultivating Joy Tiny Seed Literary Journal
Journey to Ithaca Rappahannock Review
Flitzani Rappahannock Review
Lessons from the Lion King Cleaning Up Glitter Magazine
Limitations of Art Cloudbank 13
I Carry Home Chaleur Magazine
Toronto Strong Toho Journal Issue 1