advice, being a writer, how-to, writing woes

How That Guy You Hate Got Published in The New Yorker

When you read his byline, you can’t suppress an eyeroll. Unbelievable. Of course he got published in The New Yorker, he’s exactly that kind of guy. The kind who always seems to have “a book deal in the works,” or draws attention to his success by downplaying it. You read his byline and think, It’s because he’s a fucking man, isn’t it, or, He just has more “life experience.” Like, whatever dude, get over yourself. You walk away from his article or story or poem feeling utterly slighted, wondering why your work isn’t in The New Yorker.

Here’s my question though: Have you submitted your work to The New Yorker?

If the answer is no, let me save you some time and offer you a few key insights:

  1. You don’t hate this guy. You are deeply, wildly jealous of this guy. Yes, he might be pretentious or sexist, and maybe you do hate him for those and other things, but this emotion right here, the one you feel seeing his name in The New Yorker? That’s jealousy, and the sooner you admit that, the sooner you can move the fuck on.
  2. The only way to get published anywhere is to actually submit your work. That guy might have gotten published because he was a man or because he has “life experience,” but ultimately, he got published because he submitted. Unless you’ve officially “made it” as a writer (AKA, if you’re Roxanne Gay or Diane Seuss or something) no one is going to solicit your work. You have to put it out there, which leads me to my next bit of advice:
  3. Fake it ‘til you make it. I hate this advice. Sometimes I just want to feel my crappy emotions without pretending they aren’t there. But if you want to move forward in your life, if you want to do new things, be a different person, get your work published in The New Yorker, you just gotta push through. Feel your emotions: feel jealous of New Yorker guy, feel self-conscious of your work, feel sad and doubtful and weird, but then submit your work anyway.
    Want to know the real reason that guy got published in The New Yorker? Because he thought he deserved to be published there. Even if you don’t have the confidence of a mediocre white man yet, fake it ‘til you make it and send. in. your. work.
  4. That guy probably reads The New Yorker. Do you? Even if you can’t afford a subscription, at least go online and read what they publish there. If you want to see your work in a publication, you need to know what they’re looking for, what they’re missing, and what you can bring to the table.
  5. Finally, you gotta stop worrying about that guy. He’s going to get published, but so can you. Creative writing isn’t a zero-sum game. Maybe his work got chosen over yours in that one particular issue of that one specific journal, but there are literally thousands upon thousands of journals. Keep submitting, but more importantly, keep writing. Getting published is great, but if you get too caught up in it and stop actually writing and revising (oh yeah, p.s. that guy probably revises, and so should you), you’ll run out of material to submit, and worse, you’ll run out of enthusiasm for it at all. And fixating on one guy? That’ll definitely drain your writerly muse.