In a recent post, I asked whether or not paying to submit to writing contests is worth it for a writer. Money and writing often spark conversations about worth. The kind of value we as readers give the written word and the individuals who work tirelessly to create it.
Now that I have graduated and moved back home to Southern California (oh, Portland, how I miss you), I am pushing myself to write again and write often. Although I try to squelch all hopes of publication—getting the words down at all is step one—I do find writing in smaller chunks to be less daunting. Because of that, I often approach a piece of prose as a short story, even if I plan on turning it into something larger one day. Most publications are willing to publish writer’s short stories, personal essays, and flash fiction, but perhaps not their 100,000-word novel.
But the only conversation worth having is not whether a writer should pay someone else to read their work, but whether an author should get paid because they wrote the thing.
In truth, this conversation is a matter of opinion. For as long as there are writers willing to submit their work and go unpaid, there will be writers who refuse.
I don’t believe the answer is so black and white. If you’re still trying to figure out where you stand, ask yourself “Why am I submitting in the first place?”
Is it for the prestige? Is it for the recognition? Is it to be validated? Is it because you’re a professor and your boss told you to? Is it because you’re a student and your professor told you to? Is it because you see writing as a career and this magazine or journal as a stepping stone?