I saw a call for submissions from one of the newer short mystery fiction magazines. I had recently bought an issue and wanted to read it to determine if I had anything in inventory that might be suitable for them. Turns out I didn’t. The general tone, style and subject matter were quite dissimilar to what I write. But what tumbled my writer’s emotions into the cellar was the high quality of the pieces. While the stories may not have been what I like to read, the writing was undoubtedly top notch. “Who can compete with that?” I thought. “I should just give up.” I didn’t sleep much that night. But in the morning, I realized I had gotten the wrong end of the stick. I don’t have to be those guys to be a good writer or to find a home for my work. I just needed to be my own best writerly self. I can also work to be better than I already am. Plus, I have to remember all the truly bad writing I’ve seen in print. In fact, I’ve read more than one interview with successful writers who said they got started by reading something awful and thinking, “I can do better than that.” This actually happened to me years ago. I was in a writing class and a woman read a poem about a cat. It was a real clunker. I immediately thought, “I can write a better cat poem,” and sitting right there in class, I did! And sold it to one of the old confession magazines, back when they published poetry. So now I remind myself that I have been published, there are many markets out there that are more open to my style, and that nobody ever said the writer’s path was easy. My job is to research more markets, keep submitting and meanwhile, beef up that inventory.
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Sisters in Crime