Published author Kayla King shares some of her work, and her process when submitting it for publication:
The act of writing is a strange one. Words on the page are silent until read by another. Perhaps this is why writers seek publication. Though, published work brings its own element of strangeness. Or, at least that has been my experience over the years submitting work for publication.
While I’ve set my sights on publishing the novel conceptualized my graduate studies, my short short fiction and poetry has found its own way to publication along the way. And I must admit, the feeling is all at once gratifying and too often, terrifying, knowing the words no longer belong in my head alone. Readers find them when they’re published, in a way that makes them less tangible, but more real than they are on the page in front of me.
Thinking back on my publication journey, I found myself lingering on my favorite work, and I’m excited to bring those memories forth here.
Figroot Press – “Rooted”
My life as a writer began as a poet, and I left that behind during my undergrad and much of grad school to focus on my fiction. But I found myself following the Plath Poetry Project a few years back, and in doing so, discovered my voice in poetry again. Doing so, eventually lead to this publication. This was the first time I ever got to see my work in print. Featured in the Sappho issue of Figroot Press, this publication will always remain important because I got to hold the finished product in my hand. As much as I adore the online literary world, there is nothing quite like seeing your name and words so tangible.
One For One Thousand – “Twentysomething”
As my final piece of flash fiction published by One For One Thousand, an online literary magazine where I used to be a contributor and editor, I often think back to this piece and where I was in my life at the time it was written. Shortly after its publication, our magazine faded into the horizon.
Souvenir Lit Journal – “Valhalla”
While Grayson and Shaw’s published history began over at One For One Thousand, their first appearance on the page began with this short story. After many years and drafts and rejections, this found a home at Souvenir Lit Journal. The day I received the acceptance, I was at my best friend’s house for an early Thanksgiving. I couldn’t speak, but handed him my phone, and there was a look of knowing that passed between us before excitement took over. There was much to be grateful for that day, and it’s one of my favorite memories and stories.
Dear Damsels, Revival Issue – “Unearthing Letters I Wrote You Three Years Ago”
Though not my first (nor my last) piece published by Dear Damsels, this was a poem that took too many months to get right. I absolutely adore the work and community cultivated by this magazine and can’t wait to see my next poem, “Someone Nameless, or What You Call a Mother,” published on the 13th of this month in their Promise issue!
Firewords Magazine – “The Illusionist”
My third print publication was one I pursued despite rejection. After three years and six rejections, my short story, “The Illusionist,” was finally accepted for publication by this stunning magazine. One of my favorite features of this print magazine are the illustrations they have commissioned for each piece, and the one created for mine is breathtaking, fitting the story so well. There was a certain sense of pride for my own perseverance the day this magazine arrived. It is a treasure.
Sobotka Literary Magazine, Issue 7 – “Underworld / Mindness”
My most recent print publication is this beautiful yet haunting literary magazine. You might be wondering what is so special about these two poems. The first, “Underworld,” sparked an interest in writing about my favorite women of myth. This poem, based loosely on the story of Persephone and Hades was the first, but it most certainly won’t be the last. “Mindness” might be the oddity out of all of these published pieces. Sometime ago, my best friend and I started trading stream-of-consciousness writing, wherein we’d write short forms of writing in a rapid fire manner without reading back until we’d completed the work. I received one of these in a text, which I read while half asleep on the couch. I quickly typed my own SOC back and hit send, settling back into sleep. The next morning, the time stamp on my text was around 4AM, and the words written then are nearly identical to the ones held in this published poem. I have never had a poem born complete and intact, let alone while half asleep. And for that reason, this will always be one of my favorites, and I’m so grateful to have it published in this stunning magazine.
Pink Plastic House – “iPhone Notes From a 3AM Insomniac”
While this poem will not be published until December 12, 2019, I must admit, it’s one of my most thrilling acceptances. Two years ago, I wrote this strange poem, one of my most beloved, and 19 rejections later, it has finally found a home in the attic of Pink Plastic House!
Dear Movies Zine – “If You Talk to the House, You’ll Wake the Ghosts”
Soon-to-be-published, this was the first poem to never have a single rejection before being accepted. This piece takes inspiration from my favorite tv show of the past year: The Haunting of Hill House. When I saw the submission call for this print zine asking for tv-inspired writing, I knew there was only one show I could write about, despite loving so many tv series. As someone still obsessed with Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, I decided to string together my favorite details into a narrative written to the mother of the show. I think often mothers are like houses in that they’re built to protect their children. In The Haunting of Hill House, however, both the mother and house turn against the inhabitants forcing them to face the emptiness of death, the fullness of grief, and the love that lingers after. I can’t wait to share this poem with the world!
Mistletoe & Magic: A YA Books Central Holiday Anthology – “In the Valley of Stars”
When I was asked to contribute to Mistletoe & Magic: A YA Books Central Holiday Anthology, I knew I wanted to return to the three Weyward sisters who populate the WIP I’ve been working on for the past 10 years. I started drafting the story during the summer, and perhaps the heat of August contributed to the celebration of Burning Day within this short story. But as the story grew longer, so too did my anticipation for the day these sisters might exist in more than one story. They remind me magic is real, and having their story published in my first anthology is a dream come true!
The Poetry Annals – These Are the Women We Write About
What can I say about the publication that is closest to my heart? My debut micro-collection of poetry is my proudest accomplishment of 2018, and a major milestone in my writing career. Inspired by the women within Greek mythology, my collection examines femininity, both past and present. The day my printed copy came in the mail, I held it between my hands, acknowledging its fragility. I was scared to crack the spine, to break the spell cast by seeing a whole little book with only my work. But finally, I did open that book. I flipped through the pages and read it all the way through from the dedication to the acknowledgment page. And sometimes I still do. I hope you, dear reader, might flip through those pages, too.
While the process of publishing might seem glamorized, especially as I wander through the memories of my biggest successes. I must remind, however, these publications came after countless rewrites and edits and rejections, with the exception of one, but I think we all need exceptions once in a great while. Just to put this writing life and publication process into perspective, last year alone, I had almost 170 rejections. Success is relative. Perseverance is everything.
To read more of my published writing and to learn more about my journey as a writer, I hope you will join me at my kaylakingbooks.com or follow #dreamlikekaylaking on Twitter and Instagram as I continue to pursue publication for my poetry, short stories, and YA speculative novel about dreams.
Kayla King is a graduate of the Mountainview MFA. She is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a micro-collection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. Kayla’s fiction and poetry has been published by or is forthcoming from Plath Poetry Project, Dear Damsels, Figroot Press, Ink In Thirds Magazine, Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, Fearsome Critters, Barren Magazine, Dear Movies Zine, Pink Plastic House, and Twelve Winters Press, among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over at her website: kaylakingbooks.com or her twitterings @KaylaMKing.