Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Essay Acceptance by Origins Journal, Spring 2016

After more than one year submitting my essay "Wildish Woman: A Portrait," this nonfiction narrative about a wildlife biologist in Alaska was accepted in March by Origins. The Spring 2016 print edition on the theme "borders" is slated for publication during the first week of May; click here for a preview.


According to the Origins website:

We're interested in distinct voices. Writing that tells us something about a character's roots or what makes her unique. Stories that transport us across town and country, beyond and within borders both physical and abstract, to discrete moments that change or define us. 

After 20 submissions to literary journals--including 13 rejections, 2 non-responses, and 4 post-acceptance withdrawals--I'm thrilled to finally find a home for the piece, and particularly this home. It certainly wasn't easy. I began the essay in 2011 and first revised it based on feedback during my MFA program. After sitting in my file drawer of unfinished works, followed by countless revisions over the years, the completed essay began its rounds--and requisite rejections--in January 2015. 

Among the contenders (including Cutbank, The Fourth River, Crazyhorse, Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, Carve, Ploughshares, Proximity, Missouri Review, Vela Magazine), three journals came close: First, the essay was selected as one of 82 semi-finalists among a total of 277 VanderMey Nonfiction Prize entries by Ruminate Magazine

Then, River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative “considered it deeply, but finally it did not make the cut:
Thanks for thinking of us and try us again. Be sure to show us some more things. The new RT 17.2 (out before long) will open with a dialogue between my co-editor and me about the sorts of focus and intensity we are looking for. You have the chops to get there.”
“We were really impressed with your work, which made it through to one of the last rounds. Your essay sparked a lot of conversation and had strong advocates and though it was ultimately not selected, we hope that you will keep us in mind in the future when you are looking for a home for your work.”
Finally, Origins editor and publisher Dini Karasik responded with an email of contingent acceptance:
"We really like this piece but we are struggling a bit with the narrative voice. Here is a note from one of our editors. I wonder if you would consider a revision with this in mind. If so, we'd love to see it and publish it if you address the concerns expressed..."
The suggested revisions seemed straightforward enough, requiring the insertion of a few sentences, so back to the drawing board I went. Of course, revision is rarely a simple process. After carefully combing through old notes, experimenting with phrasing and placement, and receiving feedback from a fellow writer friend with whom I often swap essays, I sent the polished piece and signed the contract! Keep in mind that the writing / revision / submission process isn't often quick or easy. It took nine months of 8 rejections and 2 non-responses before "Crisis" was accepted by Creative Nonfiction magazine (it was shortlisted among 4% of 1,700 submissions to the 'Memoir' issue contest and chosen for the 'Making a Living' issue). 
WRITE. SUBMIT. REPEAT. It's worth it!

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