Call For Submissions: Stories We’re Told

The truth is more awesome than fiction

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

There are never a shortage of stories that explain to us how life is supposed to unfold. In fact, sometimes the cultural narrative is so predictable that you can figure out the end of a story before it’s even started. But thanks to a recession and a climate of uncertainty, we’re seeing a lot more stories these days about how expectations don’t meet reality. (I’m looking at you, Lena Dunham.) So in April we’re talking about the stories we’re told and how they often look very different from the stories we’re living. Because marriage doesn’t have to mean giving up your dreams, weddings usually don’t turn us into monsters, career paths often don’t go in a straight line, and parenting isn’t always so all-consuming that it changes your identity.

How is your life different than the story you were told? (Or just the same?)

And now a quick reminder of how to submit your essay or wedding to APW:

Essays: If you want to submit an essay on the theme of Stories We’re Told, or anything else for that matter, you can do so right here.

You can always send us your weddings (on theme, or not). For those of you who are new here, we accept real weddings in one of three formats, all sourced from readers:

HOW WE DID IT: Let’s be real: it’s the logistical and financial aspects of how other people planned their weddings that you really want to dig your teeth into. Go here to fill out our How We Did It submission and tell us all the gory details.

Wedding Graduates: If you’ve got a story to tell about your wedding (like about how you planned with an emotionally absent parent, or how you actually kind of hated your wedding), head over here and submit a wedding graduate post. The focus here is on your words, but we like to back them up with you looking hot in your pictures. (You look hot in your pictures.)

Wordless Wedding: This feature is for when you don’t have a lot to say about your wedding, but maybe you think it needs to be shared anyway. Wordless weddings are short on words, big on pictures, and chock full of awesome. Submit your Wordless Wedding right here.

As always, here are the tips and tricks for submitting your story to APW and getting it published:

  • While we don’t exactly have any requirements for post length, essays between 600–1800 words are usually the ones that make it to the front page. Exceptions are always made, so don’t let those numbers keep you from writing what you need to write. If something is too long or too short, but we love the concept, we’ll help you edit it into something we can publish.
  • One of the primary characteristics we look for in submissions each month is a connection to a universal idea. We’re all writing from our personal experiences here, but if you can take that experience and make it something that other people are going to relate to, then we’ve got magic. But that doesn’t mean every post needs to have a big moral or overarching theme. Sometimes the most universal stories are the simplest ones.
  • As always, our themes are meant to serve as a guideline for submissions, but they aren’t rigid. Do with them what you will! For example, if next month’s theme is “Stories We’re Told,” but you really need to talk about how to be in love (for example), then we want to hear what you have to say. We’re always after diversity of experience, so the most important thing is that you write something that is authentic to you (particularly if it’s a perspective we haven’t heard from in a while or at all).
  • Also, when you’re submitting for the monthly theme, we don’t want you to feel as though you have to frame your story around the theme itself (i.e., “The stories we’re told…”). Heck, you don’t even have to include the name of the theme in your writing at all. Just write what you would normally write, and we’ll figure out if it’s a good fit for the month, or if maybe it would be a better fit for a future month.
  • Lastly, if you have something you just have to get out there into the world, but it doesn’t fit with the theme for the next month, please send it in anyway. Our top priority is always strong content, regardless of the topic.

And that’s it! So if you have a story to share about what you’ve learned, send it in already!

Cheers and happy writing,

Photo by Vivian Chen (APW Sponsor)

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • OH YES. I am SO EXCITED about this theme!!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Yeah, ME TOO!

    • Laura

      A third “woo hoo” here!

    • Jess


  • artfulword

    Just a quick note – thank you to this community (and some good friends of mine who have started having kids) for letting me know that being a mom doesn’t mean losing yourself. This is a message I desperately needed to hear but also didn’t know I needed to hear it. Sidebar over, excited for this theme!

  • Lauren from NH

    I have something rolling around in my mind that might get submitted. Does anyone have any suggested approaches to maintaining the anonymity of the other people in our stories? I just feel between my email and handle (I should have been more mysterious), I am super easy to track down, which I am not so worried about, but I wouldn’t want to be advertising information that could be connected to say my sister. It seems like the only solution would be to go anonymous myself but in this day and age of nasty internet comments from behind the veil of anonymity I would prefer to own my words. Any thoughts? Am I over thinking this?

    • joanna b.n.

      I *think* you can just submit the story to be from an anonymous author, and they won’t publish it linked to your handle/name/etc. Would that meet your needs?

      • Lauren from NH

        Thanks for your input. I am still a little hesitant that stories without some kind of name or face can seem less human and relatable, but I’ll sort it out.