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Click on the video above to hear about John’s experience with Writer’s Relief!
Meet our newest featured client, John Murray! Despite both a graduate degree and a career related to writing, John found himself stuck when it came to his personal creative work—especially when it came to making regular submissions and getting published. As many writers know all too well, life left little room for the massive job of sifting through the markets and finding the best places for his work, let alone actually making submissions. Thankfully, John learned about Writer’s Relief from other writers—and he’s been published many times since! His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Big Muddy, Origins Journal, Pendora Magazine, Mount Hope Magazine, The Penmen Review, and Rougarou, and his story “Saturdays in the Kitchen” was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize.
Read on and watch the video to hear how Writer’s Relief helps John make targeted, consistent submissions and dramatically boosts his odds of getting published.
In John’s Own Words
People pursue the craft of writing for many different reasons, but I’m pretty sure that no one becomes a writer because they think of how rewarding it will be to manage the submission process.
When I started graduate school, the department faculty held a reception for new students, during which a stooped and white-haired professor who’d enjoyed a decades-long career as a successful writer walked up to the podium and said, “The first thing you should do is create a file, label it ‘REJECTIONS,’ and expect to fill it.” He then pulled out an enormous file stuffed with paper and plucked a few choice denials to read to us. They ranged from unwittingly condescending to intentionally cruel. We all howled with laughter; after all, he’d enjoyed great success and all of those editors had missed a rare opportunity. We were undaunted by the idea of relentless submission and inevitable rejection—but our relentless perseverance and boundless optimism were hypothetical. Only a few of us had ever submitted anything, and even fewer of us had published something.
What happens to many aspiring writers happened to me. I finished graduate school, began a solid, writing-related career that gave me a degree of satisfaction and legitimacy—and I wrote when I could. But the demands of work, family, and life in general crept up on me, and submitting my own short fiction and nonfiction started to feel more like a self-indulgence than an imperative. I rarely wrote what I wanted to write, and I never submitted anything. Negotiating the submission process and staying on top of the evolutions and revolutions in the publishing industry were overwhelming.
Once Writer’s Relief accepted me as a client and began submitting my work—and my work was accepted by many different, quality publications—I realized that it was almost as if a burden had been lifted. Now, when someone asks where they can read my recent stories, I can rattle off a few publications and don’t steer conversations to avoid such questions. Publishing has increased my legitimacy as a writer, and that legitimacy serves as creative stimulation for new material.
I’ve begun taking more risks with my writing. I don’t worry about which publication might be appropriate for submitting a piece, because the team of folks at Writer’s Relief knows which markets to target. I’m more genuinely creative with my work, less concerned about who might like it. The market seems to be large enough and eclectic enough to accommodate a wide variety of readers’ appetites and writer styles, but I’d be lost trying to figure it out on my own.
Everyone on my team is great—knowledgeable, kind, professional, and positively “human” (you know what I mean). They’re accessible and efficient, and I’m profoundly grateful for our alliance.
More About John
John Murray has a Master of Professional Writing and a Doctorate in Education. He is an associate professor in the undergraduate writing program at the University of Southern California. In addition to teaching academic writing, he teaches a class that helps students create short documentaries to raise awareness about community concerns. Off campus, Murray co-teaches a creative writing workshop for recently paroled prisoners who were serving life sentences. His work has also appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Summerset Review, and The Opiate.