So Many Fish in the Writing Sea

A meditation on honorable mentions

The last two years running, stories I submitted to Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open have managed to score an Honorable Mention, that is, a place on the alphabetical list of the last 100 stories standing, absent the folks who made the finals or actually won. GT’s letter makes it sound like it’s a sort of big deal.

For me, it’s a reality check about the state of the Writing Sea — or more precisely, the size of its population.

When my remarkable former student and her big sister started Glimmer Train in 1991, they’d reach out to see if I had a story to share with them or was willing to write one for the next issue. They interviewed me a couple times and commissioned essays.

Those were the same good old/bad old days when universities with faculty openings in their writing programs would get in touch and ask published women writers with teaching experience to please apply because, well, they didn’t really have any female faculty just then.

Back then, you did the work and if you kept it and did it well, stuff just sort of happened, to it and to you.

After 20 years in another part of the forest — I’ve been a technology product marketer and still am — I’ve been writing fiction again. Almost a year ago, I finished a novel I’d joyously invested 6 years in. My very first one found a publisher on the 11th submission. The newest — I believe it’s my 8th — is still swimming around in the Straits of Query, looking for an agent, waiting to get read.

It’s just starting to sink in that with so many schooled fish in the Writing Sea, the spawn of my cherished solitude may never get caught.

The question is, Do I care?