Friday, December 11, 2009

The Modern Love AAA Farm Team

How do I get to Modern Love?
Practice, practice, practice.

And guess what readers, I have a bit of concrete advice as to where you might engage in that sort of practice.

Consider writing and submitting to Brevity:

Brevity is an excellent online magazine with an impressive publication record of more than a decade (that’s forever in online years). It publishes some big names (Sherman Alexie, Lia Purpura, Bret Lott) and plenty of newcomers and graduate students pushing up through the ranks. Brevity accepts essays of 750 words or less. And it’s a Modern Love feeder market.

What makes me say that?

I was getting ready to write this week’s Monday Morning Quarterbacking entry on “Even in English, a Language Gap,” by Jennifer Percy. Ms. Percy’s cut line for the ML essay is a teeny tiny bit coy. “Jennifer Percy is a graduate student in Iowa City.”

(Gee, I wonder what school? I can’t imagine which course of study in Iowa City she might be talking about. Law school? Medical school? What -- an MFA program, you say?)

So I Google Ms. Percy and found she’d be published in Brevity. That’s nice. Then I noticed on the same Brevity blog landing page was an item about Brevity contributor Gary Presley being published in Modern Love. A few clicks later, I found two more: Ann Bauer and Lori Jakiela both graced Brevity and then went on to Modern Love.

In my old job as a USA Today reporter, we used to say three is a trend. I’ve got four examples of the Brevity-to-Modern-Love pipeline. And again, Brevity has been around for a decade. I’ll bet those four aren’t the only ones.

Now here’s another reason for all us Modern Love wannabes to click on over to Brevity. In addition to being a market for great creative non-fiction, Brevity offers something Modern Love does not; craft essays Lots of them. For all of us who have read the canned ML rejection email and wondered what we could do to do better next time, Brevity is offering quite the archive of answers. Perhaps, once you've learned the craft at Brevity, you're ready to try your game at The Show.


  1. I love this sporting/scouting approach to analyzing the "feeder" teams for Modern Love!
    So many good writers have been on Brevity, it's hardly surprising that some land a Modern Love piece too.
    Of course, I suspect it's probably even harder to get into Brevity, knowing as most writers do, that writing short is a lot more difficult than long (I think ML is up to 2,300 words in some cases?).

  2. See, I find shorter easier. A 2,000 word essay is a huge challenge for me.