The first time I submitted a piece to Brevity was in September of 2013. I knew the odds were stacked against me—stacked against anyone—because the magazine gets a zillion submissions and publishes only 48 pieces a year. This magazine, an online flash creative non-fiction journal, is the Holy Grail to many of us who write in this genre (“flash” means short—in this case, 750 words or fewer—and “creative non-fiction” basically means it has to be 100% true, but it also has to use good storytelling techniques to snag the reader’s attention).
A month later, my piece was rejected.
Almost exactly two years later, in September of 2015, I tried again. I got a this-one-came-close rejection, which was enough to encourage me to get the guts to try again a month later. This time, though, I had a secret weapon: I had just written the very best piece I was capable of writing at that time, a piece that had flowed onto the page so effortlessly that it had felt as if I weren’t writing it, that some other voice had come through me and sung across the page. This piece was so perfect for Brevity, I was sure it was going to get in
That piece didn’t even come close. I got a flat out no.
Most rejections don’t sting at all (keep in mind that I get over 100 rejections a year, and if they all stung, I’d have welts all over my body), but this one did. And what was there to do? That was the best piece I had at the time—I didn’t have other, better pieces waiting in the wings.
Okay, Brevity, I thought. You’re off the hook for now, but one day I’ll be back.
In late March of this year, I spent a week in my hometown in Ohio. Every morning, before most of the town was awake, I would get up and go to the Emporium, home of the Underdog Cafe, and settle in at my favorite table with a cup of hot tea and my laptop, and I would write. It’s probably the place I write best, with the smell of coffee in the air and the soft light from the lamps. I wrote really well that whole week and completed a poetry manuscript I had been working on for a long time. But on one particular morning, I wrote a piece that was different from all the others. I titled it, “Katy Perry Is Crooning and Won’t Stop Just Because I Did.” It was a poem but a very prose-like poem (which is my style of poetry), and I looked at it again and again, and I wondered: What if I took out all the line breaks? If I did, I thought, this one I could send to Brevity.
I sent it off. In April, I got an email back from Brevity’s editor. I read the email once, but I was so confused I had to read it again—not because the email was written poorly but because I was stunned: it was an acceptance.
After I stopped being stunned, I started screaming. When you’re that happy, you’re gonna be loud, and I was really, really loud. I ran around the house screaming. My husband asked, “Are you okay?”
I was more than okay.
Thank you, Brevity, for making one of my writerly dreams come true. And thank you, Emporium, for giving me such a wonderful place to write.
If you want to read my piece, here it is, hot off the Brevity press.