Call for Submissions: Janeland

Jul 12, 2016

Call for Submissions

Working Title: Janeland: Women Write More about Leaving Men for Women (Cleis Press, 2017)

Editors: Candace Walsh and Barbara Straus Lodge

Essay length: 2,000–4,000 words, Deadline: September 15, 2016

Six years have passed since the publication of Lambda Literary Award finalist Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write about Leaving Men for Women, a groundbreaking exploration of sexual fluidity through intimate, firsthand stories. This anthology remains a crucial resource for women who find themselves deliciously (and distressingly) floundering in the knowledge that although they have always identified as straight, they are now madly in love with another woman.

It’s time to update, extend, broaden, and strengthen the conversation. The last six years has also been a revolutionary time for all LGBT people, and this book will be expansive enough to contain a full spectrum, including Trans perspectives, that could have only manifested over half a decade of turbulent and triumphant social change. Janeland will include continuations of many of the original writers’ stories, but we also seek new voices and unique variations on the now-familiar Jane story, including submissions from women who found the first book to be a catalyst, resource, and a way to connect with other women going through the same transformation.

This new cadre of women will write from a place of community and support, while also acknowledging repercussions, bad and good: custody battles, exes both furious and supportive, estrangement from and reconnection with family and friends, as well as mind-blowing sexual and emotional awakenings and the life-changing transcendence that comes from living one’s truth.

Although this book will evolve as we receive submissions, we welcome first-person, literary non-fiction essays from women who:

 1) were aware that they had always felt same-sex/gender desires, but wanted to try to make it work in the straight world, and

 2) identified as heterosexual at one time, but found themselves embarking on a romantic, same-sex/gender relationship.

We seek a diversity of voices, and welcome submissions from a variety of perspectives, including essays from women who don’t fit precisely into the above descriptions.

Here are some questions that your piece might consider or use as a point of departure. Please don’t feel like this is an essay question test and that you have to cover them all—we want the format of your essay to feel organic and not be explicitly dictated by our questions. Feel free to add other great ideas that we haven’t considered here. And don’t shy away from humor.

  • How did you come to your moment of truth?
  • Were your actions in any way dictated by the temperature of society and its views on homosexuality?
  • What were your first times like with a woman—holding hands, the first date, kiss, sexual experience?
  • How did your cultural/religious/racial/ethnic/economic background shape your experience?
  • Did your perception of yourself change? Do you feel that others’ perceptions of you changed? Did they surprise you with either an unexpected positive or negative reaction? How did this affect you? Did their reactions change over time?
  • What do you miss? What do you not miss? Everything from in the bedroom to out at dinner, at a wedding, as a parent, as a family member, at the gym, in the workplace, on a picnic—whatever comes up for you.
  • If you have children, how were the children affected by this change?
  • Do you feel like you surrendered heterosexuality or elements of heterosexual privilege? Do you feel like your new life has yielded rewards? What were the rewards you expected and which ones were surprises?
  • What is this journey like for you? How did you feel as you were setting out on it and how do you feel now? How do you mark your progress? Were there stages? Illustrative moments? Looking back, do you feel like you went through certain phases?
  • What is it like to shift your identity? What about you is the same and always will be? What about you has changed or altered?
  • How did you feel as you began your relationship with a woman? Did you get flak from individuals who second-guessed you? Did you feel like you had to prove yourself? How did you keep your internal balance (or not)?
  • How did your socialization as a straight person prepare you (ill or well) for pursuing a same-sex relationship?
  • How do you define yourself? Do current labels work for you, or are you not yet defined by a word or phrase? What paradigm do you imagine?

As editors, we value specificity, detail, “showing, not telling,” honesty, epiphanies in the form of clean, polished, crafted writing, and a sense of resolution. An arc of transformation. As Cheryl Strayed says, the invisible sentence at the end of a good essay is “and things were never the same again.”

Deadline: September 15, 2016

We strongly encourage you to send us a query well beforehand, so that we can review it, give you helpful feedback, and have a good sense of what will be coming our way that month. If you are able to submit the piece earlier, we prefer that you do.

Submit: Please send your proposal or (around 2,000–4,000-word) submission (Word document, double-spaced), along with a short bio and full contact information to:

Payment: Upon publication. Amount varies, depending upon experience and amount of editing required. Please include a list of any previous publication credits (with links, if applicable) with your query or submission. Contributors will also receive one electronic version of the book.

About the Editors: Candace Walsh co-edited the Lambda Literary Award finalist Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write about Leaving Men for Women, and is the author of the NM-AZ Award-winning Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity, both by Seal Press. Barbara Straus Lodge is a widely published essayist and a contributor to Dear John, I Love Jane.