Now is the time of year that I start looking around for new magazines and anthologies to submit my work to – for some reason a lot of magazines that I think would be a good fit for my work start to appear around this time, or start advertising more than during the spring or summer. Not sure why.
I contacted one magazine the other day (the name of which I won’t disclose) to inquire about whether or not they pay contributors, since it wasn’t listed in their submission guidelines. The editor responded that they don’t, and said that she hoped this fact wouldn’t discourage me from submitting my work.
Immediately, I thought, “Well, of course not.”
Firstly, the magazine in question is well-established and respected, but run primarily by volunteers, which is why they can’t offer payment. But even if the magazine were fledgling, as long as it’s professionally run, the absence of payment doesn’t matter to me. For me, writing is it’s own reward, and publishing is secondary, with money coming in at a distant third.
I realized afterward that my surprised auto-response might not be common among other writers – which is fine. It’s all about setting priorities for your craft. Though I would argue (and I know writers who would agree with me) that as soon as you start thinking of your writing more as a source of income than as a craft that you love, you risk taking away from the enjoyment of what you do. Now, I don’t want to discourage people from trying to make writing their full-time job – Ron Collins recently announced that he’ll be making the shift, and it’s something I would love to do later in life. The danger is that work has responsibilities and stress that can tax you instead of giving you fulfillment – and writing should never be thought of as work, even if it’s your source of income.
The greatest writers earn their status because they enjoy what they do, not because they’re good at their job.