When I was in third grade, my teacher made an exciting announcement: we were able to submit our own creative writing to my school’s literary magazine. If our writing got picked, we would be published in the magazine available to the whole school. As you might be able to imagine, the thought of that left me wide-eyed. I loved to write and thought that it would be a fun thing to try to be published. I submitted my first poem I’d ever written, and went on with my day. I forgot about the whole thing until I saw a notice in my mail cubby a couple weeks later that said my little poem had been chosen! The piece I submitted, which I titled “Under the Stars”, was something I wrote at my kitchen table quickly one day after school. I had an idea, wrote about it, drew a little picture at the bottom of the page, and then went outside to play. A few months later, I had my first publication in my hands, and I loved that feeling. It felt like my voice was permanently on the page for anyone to read, and my message could travel even when I had no idea. That felt so powerful and important. It still does.
I’d never written a poem before, but I decided to try on a whim that day. I sent that poem in without a thought. I was happy with how it turned out, and no matter what happened with the submission, I would remain happy with it. That’s the spirit I want to embody now by going back to basics with what writing meant for me during my childhood. I want to feel that in-the-moment inspiration with a careless edge; I want to submit to different publications just to try it out. In third grade, the result of my submission didn’t matter because I was doing it for the writing. It shouldn’t matter now, either.
In the field of writing, or in any art really, I feel that there is this publishing mentality that overcomes us. The older we get, the more we understand how fierce the competition is among many publications, there’s this pressure to create for that publication instead of creating for yourself, or for the sake of creation itself. Remaining “relevant” creates another push alongside of it to be insanely prolific. Between the two, the joy gets sucked out of the creative process. If the motive for the art is in the right place (in the spirit of creation), then the result of a submission isn’t what shapes our perspective on the piece, and how much we create strikes a balance with our lives. I want my creative voice to be nothing but authentic, and with that comes the right motives and intentions. I used to write not to publish the piece, but to feel the idea and get it down onto the page with no expectations of what it might become or where it would go. In fact, I was unintentionally more prolific in those days anyway because that itch to create just didn’t go away.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” -Maya Angelou
All of that to say, I’ve recently been presented with another literary magazine opportunity that mirrors the one from third grade. One of my friends from college, Natalia, is starting her own magazine for new, up-and-coming writers, and I’m so excited to submit for consideration! I love her vision for this, and I’m so happy to have the chance to be a part of it. It’s called Triggers, and here are the criteria for submissions if you’d like to join me in celebrating the spirit of writing with the heart of creation itself.
I’m getting back to the basics, and for me that means I’m writing to write. Nothing else. Nothing more. Won’t you join me within your creative process?
Much Love, Quinn
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Crazy cat lady. Exploratory writer. Much love.