Let the Baby Cry

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Weekly Prompt

Lately, I think mostly about baby sleep. Despite having gone through all of this before with my first not-good-sleeper, once again I find myself reading (parts of) books about it, doing all kinds of mental calculus about nap times and wake times, and binge-reading posts in a Facebook group devoted to baby sleep–two, in fact. The two groups are very different in their style and tone, even though they share a similar methodology (basically, allow the baby to cry) and goals (safe, independent sleep for lots of hours at a time). 

They also differ in how much sleep they recommend for babies. I guarantee that if you posted the same thing in both groups, say about your child waking too early in the morning, both would ask for the baby’s full schedule, and then upon appraisal, one group would say the baby is undertired, and the other would say the baby is overtired. 

The undertired group talks a lot about building enough “sleep pressure”; the overtired group insists that “sleep begets sleep.” 

Sometimes, it feels like an optical illusion. I start to wonder if the baby’s sleep is just too moderate. Like, I just need to veer wildly one way or the other way. 

Writing often feels that way. I’m not sure if I overthinking it, to the point of anxious perfectionism, or underthinking it, to the point of avoidance and self-doubt. 

For every anguished query from an exhausted parent, there’s a success story from someone who followed the group’s protocols exactly and whose baby giggles and coos while they settle in for a solid 10-12 hours of sleep. And just as sleep begets sleep, writing begets writing. People are doing it. They are writing stories and poems, they are getting accepted to dream publications, they are celebrating book deals.

As with baby sleep, so it goes with publication: You’ve got to let the baby (that’s you, in this case, sorry) cry (face rejection). 

Submission begets publication. 

100% of the chances you don’t take, etc. 

Publication is our theme this month. The first step is: submit. That’s it, that’s the prompt. Here, I’ll put it in the usual format:


Submit your writing to a publication that is a good fit for the piece. 

See? It’s simple. 

Okay, I’ll give you a bit more than that. First, look at the current landscape of literary journals. I have a great resource for this. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s close, and it’s super up-to-date: Entropy’s guide for Where to Submit. This one’s for June, July, and August of 2021, and a new edition will land in September. It’s very important to look at the most current list because journals shift in what they’re looking for. Could be a theme or a contest or maybe submissions for a particular genre open up at certain times of year. 

Here’s the link again, only bigger:

Entropy’s guide for Where to Submit

Bookmark it, love it, live it. 

The general idea with this month on publication at Write Away Weekly is to get you toward submitting more and submitting smarter. It’ll look kind of like this, only with a bit more detail in future weeks:

Say you wrote and revised a piece based on the prompt called “God Save Donald Duck,” in which you revisited a piece of art that used to be important to you. Now you want to submit it somewhere. 

One publication that caught my eye on Entropy’s list is After the Art, which says it’s looking for “Personal Review Essays about Reading and Art.” A closer look at the submission guidelines confirm that this could be a good target for a God Save Donald Duck piece. The one catch is, After the Art is extremely specific in what they publish, and along with being a personal essay about a piece of art, they also want the essay to consider a written work. So, if this felt like the right fit for your Donald Duck piece, you’d need to revise to consider a written work as well. 

Another interesting publication is called Dead Alive Magazine, which says it’s a “showcase for electronic and experimental art.” There’s one recent piece filed under “fiction // analysis”, a totally out-there visual absurdist piece about Everybody Loves Raymond, that evokes the Donald Duck prompt. 

To choose where to submit, you have to do two things:

  1. Read the submission guidelines carefully.
  2. Read some issues to understand better what the journal publishes. 

Like getting a baby to sleep, it’s not complicated on the face of it, but it’s a process. It takes work, and it takes good faith. The thing is, the work (your writing) is worth the work (finding places to submit that makes sense for your work). It’s worth it to get to your goal: independent sleep. Wait sorry, I mean, publishing your writing.

You have to let the baby cry.