Dorsey: Chasing successWritten by John Dorsey | | email@example.com
What does it take to become a successful writer? Well, that depends on your definition of success. I’ve always believed that just putting pen to paper every day is a silent victory. There are others who live and die by seeing their name in print. I won’t lie to you — publishing your work can be sweeter than that first schoolboy crush could ever hope to be. In my Nov. 18 column, “Community Responsibility,” I talked about many of the ways Toledo’s literary community has been coming up short; this time out let’s focus on what we’re doing right.
While poetry readings around the city have been closing down at a rather alarming rate, that is sure to change. In the meantime, a number of our community’s finest wordsmiths have been finding other outlets for their work, in print. I recently opened up my e-mail to discover that Rusty Truck Magazine had published a new poem by local favorite Michael Kocinski.
Kocinski may live in Michigan now, but he left his heart here in Toledo. Publishing our local authors seems to be a growing trend for Rusty Truck publisher Scot Young, who has also run work by Michael Grover, Craig Firsdon and myself. Firsdon, a Holland native, has also recently had work in the online magazine Red Fez; the same issue included work by UT student Nick Bruno and Simply Poetry’s Michelle “Mikki” Williams.
The past few years have also seen work published by Caroline Gauger, Timothy Geiger, Star Bowers, Bob Phillips, Ray Patrick, and the late Rane Arroyo. The list goes on and on. There are countless others who I’ve spoken with, who have sent work out and who are now just waiting by their virtual mailbox for reply.
Now, I’m not saying that publishing is anything new to the area. Etheridge Knight once called our city home, and poets like Nick Muska and Lucas County Poet Laureate Joel Lipman have certainly done their share to make our region’s literary community more visible. What excites me most about this latest wave of activity, however, is
that it seems to be all about new blood and on a national level.
When I started bringing in published poets from out of town a few years ago, what I wanted the local authors to see is that this city can be bigger than itself, that if we reach out, others will reach out to us. While this experiment has had mixed results, our community is expanding and going out into the larger world and I couldn’t be prouder.
Now, if we could do the same thing in terms of readings, we’d really be cooking.
So just how can you get involved in publishing? There are a number of resources available to you just by going online or visiting your local library. Here are just a few:
- Duotrope’s Digest, www.duotrope.com
- Writer’s Digest Magazine, www.writersdigest.com
- Poets and Writers Inc., www.pw.org
- Laura Hird, www.laurahird.com
- Poet’s Market, www.poetsmarket.com
Do any of these resources actually work for the unpublished writer? I can tell you from personal experience that they do. When I started submitting my own work back in the early 1990s, I found my very first publishing success as a result of a listing in Writer’s Digest.
You’re afraid that you’ll be rejected … you probably will be. I was the first few dozen times. All you can do is move forward and find moments of success where you can.
Until next time … keep your pencil sharp.
Toledo Free Press Star contributor John Dorsey resides in Toledo’s Old West End. His work is widely published and has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.