I have big publishing news: an essay of mine appears in the Feb. 2011 issue of The Lutheran, the official magazine of the largest groups of Lutherans in the U.S. You can go here to read the first several paragraphs. I'll likely repost the whole thing on my theology blog in a few months, but if you don't want to wait, feel free to e-mail me (or leave me your e-mail address in a comment), and I can send you the document in a Word file.
I find the process by which this article came to be in The Lutheran to be intriguing. First, a bit of background: if you had known me in 2002 and 2003, you'd have known a woman who was doing a lot more submitting, of poems, of completed manuscripts of poems, of essays, of short stories. I wanted to be my generation's Kathleen Norris. I submitted to all sorts of non-conservative Christian publications. (I also wanted to be my generation's Marge Piercy or Gail Godwin, but that's a topic for a different blog post).
Years ago, I sent essays to The Lutheran and every other publication my church produces, in addition to the publications put out by other mainstream Protestant groups. I never heard back or after many, many months, I got a rejection. As the years progressed, I wrote a weekly meditation on the Gospel reading for the upcoming Sunday. I sent it out with the electronic newsletter that I created for my church. My mom's church asked if they could use it. Of course, I said yes. When I switched churches, I continued to do the electronic newsletter for the first church (again, a story for a different blog post), while posting the meditation on the blog of the new church.
I used to joke that I was syndicated. I knew that I had more readers of my work on a weekly basis than I ever did from getting a poem published in a literary journal.
I'm not sure that I can say the same thing about poems published in electronic forums, but I'm sure it was true of most of my poem publications in paper editions. And in the meantime, I started 2 blogs, and I kept writing, even though I wasn't sure that many people were reading.
What's fascinating to me is to consider the many publishing doors that my blogging has opened for me. In some ways, blogging has been a more effective way of getting published (and I'm talking about publication beyond the blog posting itself) than sending out packet after packet of poems or other writing. In some ways, blogging has given me a much larger audience than anything else I've done.
Because of blogging, I was asked to be an official blogger at the Living Lutheran site. The editor at The Lutheran saw a blog post of mine on my theology blog and asked if I could turn it into a larger essay--of course I said yes. And now, that essay which began life as a blog post, is in a magazine with a circulation of 280,000 or thereabouts.
Will those readers become devoted fans of mine? I doubt it--although I certainly hope that some of them might. Still, it's a thrill to think of how far and wide these words are going.
I think back to the time when I was reading blogs and wanting to write a blog, but I was worried about all the ways it might harm me. What if I got ugly e-mail? I had heard of female bloggers especially being at some risk in the blogosphere. So far, nothing bad along those lines has happened to me. On the contrary, when I first started blogging, I laughed at my former fears of being a target. It seemed far more the norm that no one read a thing I wrote. But I expected the early time of blog writing to be slow in terms of an audience. That was fine with me.
I was more worried about my blogging somehow negatively impacting my current job or my future job searches. So, I've been a bit careful. I started out trying to keep my location, my job, those kinds of things, a bit hidden. I still don't mention my workplace by name, but it wouldn't take much sleuthing to figure it out. I'm careful when I write about my job. I'm careful when I write about the lives of others. I try to be, at least.
So, for all you wanna-be bloggers out there who wonder whether or not to take the plunge, I would say, do it. It's a platform that will open more doors for you than might open otherwise.
I haven't moved into Twitter, and I don't do as much with Facebook as I could. Some people say that the era of the blog is over and dead, but I don't believe it. There will always be new and emerging platforms. That doesn't mean that the old platform will go away.
For that matter, I still won't be happy until I have book-length publications. I'm hopeful that some of this writing will lead to a book. I also know that I can't be sure of the road to that publication. It's not as clear as it once was. Maybe someone will read a blog post and write me to ask if I have a manuscript. Maybe I'll send out a manuscript to a publisher who will say yes. Maybe someone will read my essay in The Lutheran and contact me. Maybe some new innovation that I haven't even heard of yet will open the door for me.
All I know is that I must keep writing and doing the work and showing up. That sounds so smug and self-assured. So, tomorrow, I'll tell you the rest of the story about this essay in The Lutheran, a sort-of cautionary tale, but one with a happy ending.
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