Dear Submittable, My Sweetness:
There’s something about your stark white design that tells me I should lower my expectations, that this isn’t a world of glitter and unicorns with rainbows reflecting from their golden horns. Rather, you remind me of bones bleached against the gypsum sands of New Mexico, where time and wind mark the passing of the hours, days, weeks, months since I submitted my creative nonfiction personal essay to The Gettysburg Review. I wait, my dearest, with great patience.
A tag the color of the Albuquerque sky two hours after sunset reads “Received” and I believe I have indeed been received. My essay on the death of my father and my childhood in Illinois and my adult confusion about his legacy has been given a reception into your blank white arms, which are infinite and abiding and accepting of every poem, every essay, every short story or novella I care to let slip into your alabaster void.
I click on the “Accepted” tab, turning my ear to the screen in hope of hearing a gentle whisper of approval, but I am met with “No submissions found.” It’s as though you tried, that you looked hard and far and wide, but could find nothing I created worthy. But this is not cause for despair, for you are the great bastion of literary dreams, the looking glass that summons and beckons.
Under “Declined” I find a retelling of great battles, of poems about the gritstone bridge in Bakewell and the Shivering Mountain Mam Tor and the rangale of deer breathing fog at Chatsworth that were not fit to print in Nowhere Magazine. I do not fear this listing of my declined children, because I still believe in their unrealized power, that they merely have not yet found their right home, or that perhaps one more revision will elevate them into blossoming lilies that rise above the surface of the slush pond.
Every writer who daydreams of Crazyhorse or Granta or The Kenyon Review and the kiss of acceptance will wander into your skein eventually, will thrash at your pearly threads, but only after trying to unearth the name of the magazine’s current poetry/nonfiction/fiction editor in order to properly address the required cover letter as if we were old friends who simply have not yet met.
You may not love me yet, Submittable, and certainly not with the same passion I extend to your “Discover” tab where chapbook contests, $3 flash-fiction submissions and mysterious calls for “M A N U S C R I P T S” waver across my screen. In your limpid eyes I see myself, my yearning, my aspirations and ambitions. You are the bridge I must cross to one day see my words tumbling between the cover stock of the magazines that form you and support you.
Take my $5 submission fee. Take my short story. Take my heart and clutch it just tightly enough that I feel your fingerprints on its muscles, and then release it once again. I will return to you because my hope is as infinite as your listings.
Ever and truly yours,