Maya C. Popa of Publishers Weekly

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 – 10:00am

Whenever I am asked to speak publicly on editing, I sense the audience’s hope for a formula or key: as straightforward as how to write a winning cover letter or as inscrutable as which week of the submission period to hit Send. However, so much of what I teach in my courses and write about in my newsletter comes down to mindset, not craft, and certainly not insider information.

Your writing begins in your mind-body; your publishing journey begins with your mindset. The time it takes you to bounce back from a rejection is far more important than whether or not you face repeated rejections—indeed, receiving them is a positive indicator that you are actively submitting your writing, which is step one towards having a book out in the world. It won’t always be possible to reframe disappointment quickly or easily, but the faster you shift from thinking “I am a reject” to “this [poem, pitch, book] wasn’t right for this [issue, agent, publisher],” the more you will summon and preserve the precious energy that allows you to keep showing up each day to the work.

Do not fall into the trap of conflating your worth, and the life-affirming pleasure of writing, with the final product. Redirecting insecurity to blame the market, the system, and so forth won’t help, either. Why? Because indignation isn’t a useful emotion from which to write. Part of your job as a writer is to generate and preserve the emotions and conditions that will help you write. I can offer no better advice than this: Practice radical honesty with yourself and cultivate a sense of space between your creativity and the business of submission. Your journey will be far smoother, saner, and more rewarding. You will work in a way that rises to meet your gifts rather than depletes you, if you make how you feel your priority.

Maya C. Popa, poetry reviews editor, Publishers Weekly

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Photo credit: Bill Wadman

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Author: karenng

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  • January 24, 2024