I get emails.
Is "emails" the plural of email? I'm not sure. But whatever you want to call them, I get lots of them, especially on the day a new column comes out.
Some are not so friendly. Last week, for instance, I received the following missive in response to my column on gun violence and the somewhat long-in-the-tooth U.S. Constitution:
Ms Brooks, You are of the lowest character I can think of! You and obummer must be sleeping together and you will never disband the US Constitution and God will judge you very soon! How do you sleep at night?? O you have obummer! Sorry I forgot!!
emails, thankfully, are kinder, and roughly once a week I even get the most
flattering kind of email there is: queries from younger people about how to
"break in" to the
stodgy, poorly compensated high-octane, glamorous
world of foreign policy commentary. (And now maybe I'll get them from furloughed federal employees!)
Forthwith, my tips, which I promise are worth every penny of a very small portion of the $2.99/month you are now forking over for the privilege of reading FP:
Read. You need to know stuff. You need to know what's happening in the world and what others think about what's happening.
Write. Make it a habit. Start a blog. Send long emails to your friends telling them what you think about the foreign policy news of the day. Compose learned limericks about the likelihood of Middle East peace. Whatever. Just write.
Submit your writing for publication. Well, yeah. As the Powerball slogan says, "You can't win if you don't play." You don't want your immortal limericks to go unpublished, do you? So polish 'em up and send them in to editors of magazines, journals, newspapers, and websites you like. What are they going to do, reject you?
Learn to take rejection. Unfortunately, they are going to reject you, at least some of the time. They're going to explain, nicely or not so nicely, that they don't publish limericks, or that they only publish limericks written in French, or limericks that don't suck, or whatever. This will happen to you. When you're just starting out, this may even happen a lot. Don't take it personally. Try again. If they offer suggestions, pay attention. And don't give up. Keep sending in your queries.