A Writer Whistling in the Wind: How do you unravel the mystery of submission to Medium publications?
The uber writer, J. D. Salinger, insured his alone time by sequestering himself in a cement-block writing shed each day and permitting no interviews, visits, or other interruptions. But somehow he managed to go into town one night a week to have dinner at a local organization’s evening meals for townies. Was it meatloaf that he craved? I forget.
Oates, somehow, manages to write, play music, tend to her cats, and teach at major universities. I envy anyone with that much energy and creative productivity.
For sure, these two writers have produced more than most of us will do in our lifetimes. Oates is a miracle of production with her writing novels in multiple genres, short stories, novellas, plays, poems, and she runs. In between all these activities, she finds time to love her cats, too. What a woman.
The foot in the door
But how did they begin? My aspirations are not as grand as their’s, but I do want to know how to write for specific publications. Therein lies the rub facing all writers with specific wishes.
None of the Medium publications, as far as I’ve seen so far, list an “About us” with how to contact them with articles you’d like to submit. I’ve been picked up by publications that saw articles I published in Medium on my desktop without a specific publication. Yeah, for them, and I do appreciate it.
For some writers, Truman Capote, to mention one, they began submitting articles to literary publications. Salinger and Capote managed to be published, ultimately, in The New Yorker. It was here that Salinger would find his home, too, and the publication received some of his first efforts.
After his death, Salinger left a trove of unpublished materials with some vague instructions about their cataloging and publication disposition. His son has now decided to publish the material, and we are eagerly awaiting what happened to the Glass family.
Quoted in The Smithsonian, Salinger’s son said, “This was somebody who was writing for 50 years without publishing, so that’s a lot of material. … [But] there’s not a reluctance or a protectiveness: When it’s ready, we’re going to share it.” The time has come, and it’s “ready” now.
Capote, characteristically, got his foot in the door at The New Yorker. “At seventeen, he took a job as an assistant at The New Yorker, sifting through art and cartoons.” Undoubtedly, he used the time well and sold articles to major magazines during his stint at this literary behemoth.
Truth be told, and Capote loved to tell “the truth,” didn’t he, he worked his magic not only on the typewriter but with his silver tongue; collecting the famous as friends and patrons. One friend, Carson McCullers, wasn’t so enamored of his friendship as she believed he used the bond without so much as a polite “thank you.”
The friendship soured as it has been reported. “McCullers, along with her sister Rita, was helpful in launching Truman’s career, but in the end, she felt ill-thanked for her help. After the publication of Capote’s first two novels, McCullers became convinced that certain passages had been plagiarized from her own writings. Her retribution was swift — she broke ties with Capote and treated him standoffishly from then on.”
But what about Medium?
If Medium and its writing publications had been around when some of the greats were producing, they would have devoured it. After all, Dickens did get his start writing for newspapers and other publications.
Wonder how he managed it. Did they have an “About us” note on their publications? Did he show up and drop an article on the editor’s lap with the hope of publication? Or did he know something more?
Some questions will never be answered, and that’s okay. Dickens did what he needed and went on to great success despite his lack of education.
But sometimes, a writer feels like a lamb walking in the wilderness and hoping that a fox doesn’t find them before the shepherd does.