What to Send to The Disappointed Housewife ~ editorial plea by Kevin Brennan

One of the greatest pleasures I get as editor of your The Disappointed Housewife is opening an unsolicited submission and finding a piece that really “gets” our mission. My grin broadens as I read it, each line telling me that this writer is a natural at what we want to publish:

We’re looking for stories that strike us as different, always with that idiosyncratic touch. Iconoclastic. Kind of bent. Humorous. Poems that find the metaphors we’ve been looking for but never quite landed on. Essays that take us away from the usual and into the world of the unseen and overlooked.

Unfortunately, the kind of material we’ve been getting for the past year or so usually doesn’t “hit the sweet spot,” as our typical rejection letter puts it. That’s why we haven’t published a whole heck of a lot in recent months. I’ve hesitated to accept many “almost there” pieces out of a fear that the mission will get diluted, so I’ve erred on the side of sporadic publication instead. 

Most often, I’ve rejected pieces for the simple reason that they’re not sufficiently bold or different in style, word use, structure, and impact. In other words, they’re poems and stories that could appear in almost any literary journal. They’re shy on idiosyncrasies. Not offbeat. Their authors might have skimmed some of the works we’ve published and thought, Close enough. It’s another place to send my stuff. But they haven’t appreciated the spirit of our mission. They see all literary journals as more or less cut from the same cloth. 

If you’re a writer who thinks your work would be a good fit for The Disappointed Housewife, first take a look at our submission guidelines to confirm. Spend some time reading the journal and getting a real feel for what we like. 

Take a look at our Pushcart Prize nominees for 2020 and 2021. Stories like “Destination Bulgaria” by Jim Meirose and “The Saran Wrappers” by Xenia Taiga. Poetry like “If I seem distracted, I’m working on my party trick” by Lisa Bledsoe, or, going further back, “Constellations Ms (folio#073.119.82)” by William Jackson. Read anything by Jake Sheff here, or pieces from our Faux Forms & Genres category like “Bodies ~ a text collage” by Hanuszkiewicz Marcin, “Coordinator of the Mother Daughter Relations Department” by Tara Lemma,  or “Fanmail Received Today by the Jake Ryan/Michael Schoeffling Fan Club, Even Though It’s Been 34 Years Since ‘Sixteen Candles’ Was Released” by Leigh Lewis. Essayists and writers of creative nonfiction need look no further than “Two Guys Carrying a Toilet Into Taco Bell” by Jacqueline Doyle.

Recently we published found poetry from O Magazine, compiled by Marilyn Cavicchia, who selected all the words she used from a single issue of the mag. I’d love to see more of that kind of thing. (See also “Hidden Verse in Ivanhoe” by Nathaniel P. Mahar or “Hidden verse in Harry Castlemon’s Rodney the Overseer (1892) by Rosa Jivani.) I’d also love to see more illustrated material like “Welcome to Café Angst,” a menu by Chas Hawthorne or “Double Truth Deals,” a board game by C. B. Auder.

Of course, you can always send us something we’ve never seen or published before, something sui generis. We’re open to it, I assure you. 

The bottom line is, there are plenty of places to send your more traditional or formal and familiar pieces. There’s nothing wrong with high-quality work in that vein. But for The Disappointed Housewife, send us your oddities and pink elephants. The things that don’t seem right for the venerable journals we all cut our teeth on as we were developing as writers. 

Finally, pay close attention to our guidelines and be sure your prose works fall within our 1500-word limit. Many works are rejected because they’re longer, sometimes much longer, than that.