Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: The Grumpy Writer, Or Where to Publish Your Rants & Complaints

What’s the saying? Don’t get mad–get even.

For me, the adage might be adjusted: Don’t get mad–get writing. (And maybe even get paid.)

Over time, I seem to have found a particular way to cope with things that annoy and irritate me: I write about them. Most of the time, I’ve gained a check along with the byline.

This week, a short piece (dare I call it flash nonfiction?) was posted on The New York Times‘s City Room blog, in a recurring feature called “Complaint Box.” A few months ago, I sold a short article-essay to The Writer in which I vented certain Twitter-focused frustrations. And let’s not forget some earlier examples, such as my rejoinder to a workshop leader who mocked the use of “foreign words” in fiction, or my argument against the equally misguided classmate who told me that I shouldn’t be incorporating “current events” into my short stories, either.

Of course, as my own examples show, it’s not impossible to place this writing–essentially a kind of essay–in a variety of publications, including literary and niche magazines. But I do try to take note of specific calls and opportunities to publish rants, peeves, and other opinion-driven pieces. Here’s a short list of a few such venues (I’ve limited the list to publications that specify that they pay their writers).

  • Bitch magazine pays $10-$20 for its “Love/Shove” items: “Love/Shoves are short (under 500 words) but sharp-eyed and cogent analyses of the latest things that either pleased you or enraged you. We’re looking for pieces that are timely, and, more importantly, go beyond the sentiment of “Wow, this sucks!” in search of deeper meaning. Love/Shoves are accepted on a rolling basis, and are often printed on our website as well as in the magazine, so send things along whenever the mood strikes.”
  • Canada’s Briarpatch Magazine, “a contemporary issues magazine with a chip on its shoulder and a fire in its belly,” welcomes “Parting Shots” submissions, with a standard pay rate of $50 (presumably in Canadian funds): “Want to weigh in on an important issue from a new or controversial perspective? Our back page is reserved for thoughtful opinion pieces and well-aimed jabs that will challenge readers to see the world in new and interesting ways. Don’t assume that your audience will necessarily agree with you — always back up your assertions with well-researched facts and well-reasoned arguments.”
  • If you’re a U.K. resident, you might consider this monthly “Complaint Letter” writing competition: “Every month we will select a ‘Star Letter’ and the author will receive a small prize of £30. We will choose the winner one month after the end of the month that your letter was published in. For example, if your letter was published in July we will choose a winner at the end of August. Our decision will be based on how well the letter is written as well as the popularity of the letter in terms of the number of comments and the votes received.”
  • Mslexia, a U.K.-based magazine “for women who write,” pays £20 for “Rants”: “Grumpy Old Women, this is your chance to vent a bit of spleen, in 80 words or less, about something that really irritates or enrages you.”
  • World Hum, which describes itself as providing “the best travel stories on the Internet,” has a “Speaker’s Corner” section: “Speaker’s Corner essays feature rants or raves about any travel-related subject.” Payment: “If your submission is accepted by World Hum, the editors will contact you as soon as possible with more information, including payment details.”

You may also find The OpEd Project’s list of outlets useful.

Please do add others you might know of, in comments!