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I watched an interesting conversation unfold on Twitter a few weeks ago, after Roxanne Gay retweeted a status from Kima Jones, where they were talking about how frustrating it is as an editor to tell people you want to work with them and have them “aww-shucks” their replies, decorated with insecurity.
Now Gay and Jones are two women of colour in publishing who have talked very publicly about how much of their career has been spent being told “no.” So I did what I normally don’t do in situations like this, and I clicked through to read the replies and comments.
This isn’t about women or women of colour in the publishing industry (cause holy hell, that’s a deep rabbit hole to tumble down).
It’s about what you are doing wrong when you send submissions and pitches to editors.
Cause hooooo-doggies, is this one a frustration for me.
For those of you who have more sense and time, and didn’t click through on the link, it was Jones basically saying, “If someone gives you the opportunity, says they want you to write for them or proceed with a submission—BELIEVE THEM. Cause I don’t have time or energy to be your editorial spirit and life guide.”
I get it. I really get it.
It’s hard to put your writing (and, as an extension, yourself) out there for a publication or website to approve or reject.
When it is your own site or Medium or similar, there’s absolutely apprehension; but at the end of the day, you can publish whatever you want to post.
If you are working with an editor or publication or content manager or website, that’s hella scary!
The temptation is there to seek the positive reinforcement and nurture from an editor to soothe your anxiety and fear.
That’s not what they are there for.
Sure, as editors, part of our job is holding a writer’s hand and gently shoving nudging them through the publishing process.
When you tell us that you aren’t sure you are good enough, need to ask 27 zillion tiny clarifications before even getting started, and question our expertise and skill in choosing you in the first place…it makes editors…angry.
The backlash on the thread was surprising, to say the least. I didn’t really think her comments were all that harsh, but apparently a lot of people feel it is part of an editor’s job to foster a writer’s confidence.
A good editor will do that for you.
But it definitely isn’t their job. Their job is to find great writing and get it published.
If they can build you up along the way, that is awesome. Yet it isn’t a guarantee.
Go out there, pitch your face off, land great gigs, and know that you are good enough to do it.