by Gwen Goodkin
- Themed Issues/Contests are worth a try. My first published short story won the John Steinbeck Award for Fiction. While this wasn’t a themed contest, the story I submitted, “A Boy with Sense,” was about a boy on a farm which aligned with Steinbeck’s writing. Another story in the collection, “Waiver,” won Black Fox Literary Magazine’s contest titled, ‘A Stranger in a Strange Place.’ However, when I submitted the story, I said it was more like ‘A Stranger in a Familiar Place,’ but thought it might still apply. So, if you’re in doubt, my advice is to try anyway.
- Editorial feedback in rejections can help – but not always. Part of the process of learning to write is knowing which feedback to take in and which to ignore. While feedback is mostly well-intentioned, sometimes another person may think you should write the story to their taste. But it’s your story. And in some cases, the person’s feedback really does find a weak point that you should consider revising. If you’re uncertain, give the revision a try and if you don’t like it, scrap it.
- Just because a place published you once, doesn’t mean they will again. I like that my stories and essays all have different personalities and flavors. The downside of this is that, though one story may be right for a journal, another might not be. I have been rejected by places who published my stories, sometimes more than once. Just remember it’s part of the process and soldier on.
- Keep submitting. When you’re submitting stories, what the process boils down to is finding the one person who will fall in love with your story. Sometimes this happens right away and sometimes it takes a long time. If you give up on submitting, your person may be right around the corner, but you’ll never know. So keep going.
- Every journal is different when it comes to publishing. Some journals have you sign a contract before publishing, others just go for it and publish. Some pay, some don’t. Some edit heavily, some not at all. Some publish right away, some publish months later. Some are online, some print only. While you can’t predict how a journal will publish your story, be proud of your achievement – however it comes to light!
Gwen Goodkin is the author of the short story collection, ‘A Place Remote,’ published by West Virginia University Press. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has won the Folio Editor’s Prize for Fiction as well as the John Steinbeck Award for Fiction. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. To learn more, visit gwengoodkin.com
A Place Remote
From farm to factory, alcoholism to war wounds, friendship to betrayal, the stories in A Place Remote take us intimately into the hearts of people from all walks of life in a rural Ohio town. Whether they stay in their town or leave for distant places, these characters come to realize no one is immune to the fictions people tell others—and themselves—to survive.In each of these ten stories, Gwen Goodkin forces her characters to face the dramatic events of life head-on—some events happen in a moment, while others are the fallout of years or decades of turning away. A boy is confronted by the cost of the family farm, an optometrist careens toward an explosive mental disaster, a mourning teen protects his sister, lifelong friends have an emotional confrontation over an heirloom, and a high school student travels to Germany to find his voice and, finally, a moment of long-awaited redemption.