Well, I finally did it. I’m anxious and excited and nervous and worried and happy and elated all at the same time.
I just submitted my story “The Replacement” to The New Yorker for consideration for publication.
Way back when I was reworking the short story for the Advanced Fiction Writing course I was taking at Massey University in late 2014, I wrote in my accompanying note with my final assignment that I felt so strongly about the story that it could be accepted by a high-profile publication like The New Yorker. While I don’t think my teacher wanted to build up false hopes of making it into a magazine like that, he did express he felt it was a strong story, and this was a recurring theme I heard from many people who read it, even including someone on Scribophile, who expressed shock that it wasn’t already published somewhere.
So, the goal was to polish the story until it became not just good, but excellent. Well, kids, I could spend until doomsday doing that, and this has been a huge problem in my life: just putting things off day after day when, in actuality, it’s probably really, really, really good (to excellent) as-is, so I should bite the bullet and do whatever it is I was going to do with it.
Otherwise, it will never be done, and it will never be submitted, and I would never know if it could be accepted.
It’s not my life’s goal to get a story published in The New Yorker or any similar publication. Please, don’t get me wrong; it would be a great honor to be published in a magazine of that calibre. But my main goal was to have a piece of work I considered excellent enough to submit to a publication like The New Yorker and then be brave enough to submit it. Check, and check.
Of course, the odds of being an outsider and published in The New Yorker, according to David B. Comfort in his article, “Taking It in the Shorts: The Greatest Story Never Told”, in the September 2012 issues of The Montreal Review, estimates the chances at 0.0000416%, or 1.5 in every 36,000 submissions. Those are pretty slim odds, sure. But the point is: I don’t know unless I try.
The way I figure it is: I’ve written a strong short story. Some publication will want to publish it. But why not start with one of the best? Sure, I’ll be hurt if I’m rejected (which, sadly, The New Yorker basically confirms by not responding to your submission after 90 days), but at least I’ve tried to submit a story.
And that’s a strong start from where I was a few years ago, or even a decade or two ago.
Watch this space!