I had a good idea for a story. A long time ago I took a lot of philosophy courses. In philosophy, you think a lot and then you write about it. I did well in those courses, so I figured I could think and write pretty well.
My friend from those days studied English. He went on to get a job in a hospital but he still writes. I see that his stories and poetry get published all over the place, but not the prestigious literary or poetry journals. I’ve read some of his stuff. I really don’t get it. So I figured if he could write and get published with stuff I don’t get, then my stuff getting published ought to be a piece of cake.
I had a brilliant idea for a story so I typed the idea out. Then I sent it to 25 of the most prestigious literary journals. Most didn’t respond, but a few did, saying something like, “We appreciate your interest in being published in XYZ Journal. You have an interesting idea but we recommend submitting finished works. We will be happy to consider a full story. Regards.”
I was pissed at the rejection and dismissal of my brilliant idea. So I reached out to my friend from college. I told him how I wanted to be a writer too.
He asked me what I’ve written. I told him about the idea. He said an idea isn’t a story or a poem.
I told him I imagined some publisher would recognize my idea’s greatness, then encourage me in developing it. Maybe even make me a promise to publish it on completion.
My friend said that’s not the way publishing works. He said you submit finished poems and stories, then wait for all the rejections. If one in ten gets published anywhere, you’ve done good. And then you keep on writing and accepting rejections since most of any writer’s stuff isn’t that good.
I told him it didn’t seem fair since my idea was so good. He asked me what it was.
I told him my idea for a story about a man with big, hairy hands and an eating disorder.
He told me it probably wasn’t that good. He said even if the idea was good, the story itself wouldn’t be. He said it takes years of work to master the craft of writing a good story. He said it might even be useful to study the craft.
That sounded like a lot of pointless work so I offered my friend the idea. I said since he’s an accomplished and published writer, he could work it up. And he could submit it to all the places that had published him before. I said if he did a good enough job working it up, he might submit it to some of the prestigious journals. Maybe they’d accept it. Maybe it would win a Pushcart Prize.
Without much enthusiasm, he said he’d think about it.
I said the only conditions was, if it got published, I wanted credit as co-author, since it was my idea.
My friend said it was amazing how much I wanted to be a writer.