Let's Bake Writers

Creating is a solitary pursuit. All artists and artisans—whatever their medium—create in a vacuum. Unless you believe in the cosmic consciousness and everything we can create is out there somewhere waiting to be snagged.

(Don't envision a large factory, please.) Think of a baker who makes a loaf of bread. Ditch the image of an electric bread maker. I mean the real, made-from-scratch kind with nothing artificial. The kind of bread that tastes heavenly warm from the oven and slathered with butter.

When the baker mixes and kneads the dough, she hopes the outcome will taste good. The only feedback she gets is when someone eats a slice of her bread. The best feedback is when someone eats the whole loaf in one sitting.

Our warm bread—whether by profession or hobby—is our writing. (No real butter, please. Just pretend the heart healthy spread is the real thing.) If we are passionate about the craft of writing we want to share what we've written. Most of us belong to critique groups of some sort. While we often reject negative comments as if they were overdone bread crusts, we willingly subject ourselves to the experience of being critiqued so we can improve our craft.

Then, when the final draft is finished and polished, like a loaf of bread that's put in the oven, we send our creations to the world. We submit. Some writers try small markets, some try large ones. Even a rejection is validation. Rejections mean we have tried.

Only a writer knows what it feels like to receive four rejections in a single day. Tip: If you do get more than on response—snail mail or email—from a publisher, don't open them all at once. Savor them. Open one a day. At least spread the news—whether bad or good—over a few hours.

We all want that response or phone call to be “Congratulations, we are publishing your (poem, story, book).” Caveat: could it be the cosmic consciousness or karma that the publications that published several of my poems and a short story are no longer with us? But that's another story.

We write because we have stories to tell. We may want to leave our memoirs as a family legacy. Some of us have a burning desire to become published authors/poets. The stories that rattle around our minds begging for release on the page/monitor (I still compose poems on paper first) should be read by others. Perhaps our families. If we aim for publication we must go beyond our critique groups. We must submit. In our quest to become published authors we keep writing and submitting to as many markets as we can find.

As the editor of The Petigru Review, the annual anthology of SCWW, I want your submissions. TPR exists because of our SCWW members. We haven't received nearly as many manuscripts as last year. The deadline for entering was April 30. I will make a decision by Wednesday if the deadline will be extended.

TPR receives submissions from well-published writers to newbies. We hope to see emerging authors as well as professionals on our pages. We aspire to Pushcart Prize winners.

Writers become published authors only if they bake the bread (submit). Editors exist to taste (publish). As the editor of The Petigru Review, I hope to see all of you in print so that many others can enjoy our stories. I hope for Pushcart Prizes.

We check recipes to be sure we haven't missed an ingredient. Before you submit anywhere, pay homage to Grammaticus, the little-known god of punctuation, and labor over the final draft. Proofread. Check every apostrophe, quotation mark, period and comma. I'm not much of a fan of semicolons or exclamation points, but if you use them, make sure they're used correctly.

I leave you with this little fable:

A panda walks into a restaurant and orders a sandwich. After he eats it, he pulls out a pistol, fires it into the air, and moves to walk out the door without paying his bill.
The waiter exclaims, "Hey Panda! What the heck was that all about?"
The panda tosses him a dictionary, and says, "Look me up."
The waiter flips through the dictionary and finds the word Panda:

“Panda: furry mammal who eats, shoots and leaves.”

Check out Lynn Truss's book: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

Ah, the power of creating. And misplacing one lousy comma. The title should read: Let's Bake, Writers.


Ginny said...

Tibby, I LOVE this!

Valerie Norris said...

Don't open agent/editor letters immediately? That's like opening one Christmas present each day! (Oh, wait, usually Christmas presents are good. I need another analogy.)

Thanks for this, Tibby!

JM Kelley said...

Tibby, I'm loving this post. Except not only do I like to open agent/editor letters immediately, I enjoy staring at my empty inbox and having my eyes glued to the space when a rejection actually arrives. Ironically, when I finally got a 'yes', my email instantly crashed.

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