Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Accounting

44ยบ ~ bright November sun, highs in the low 70's all week, sweet Southern autumn

This morning I only submitted one thing, but rather than a pack of poems, it was the manuscript.  That's an easy submission as I don't re-read the whole book before sending it out.  I'd go crazy that way.  I'd say I've read it through about a half a dozen times since the great manuscript exchange/revision of August/September 2010.  Read all about it here.  Eventually, I have to stop the tinkering, as I've been known to over-work my work.

I was a bit surprised by the guidelines for this press.  Everything was fairly standard until I read the line: "early submission is strongly recommended."  Hmmmm.  This is something that has always worried me.  I was recently told that for contests, submitting early wasn't necessary b/c the press is obligated to treat all the manuscripts the same as long as they fall within the submission dates.  The same poet guru told me that in open reading periods not associated with contests it is best to send at the beginning because once the editors find the manuscripts they like, they stop looking as hard, being under no real obligations as no money has changed hands.  That all sounds completely sane, rational, and ethical to me.

I'm hoping that the press I sent to today (not early on my behalf), simply encouraged early submissions so that the office staff wouldn't be inundated next week when the postmark deadline happens.  I'm hoping.

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In other news, check out Diane Lockward's great post on Blogalicious.  She details the process of writing an anagram poem.  Sounds like the kind of process I enjoy, getting words to bounce around on the page and letting the poem spring up out of myself and the words.

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Finally, thank you to those who comforted me on Facebook over the weekend about the NEA rejection letter.  For some reason, I forgot that there would be 1,000 other poets (many, many friends of mine) receiving the same thin envelope.  The magic number this year is 42 winners, and I'm crossing my fingers that a large number of those will be friends of mine.

I don't know why I took the news so hard this year.  I know the long shot that it is, and a fellow poet reminded me that she had applied 13 times before being rewarded.  I know how much of the game is subjective and relies on which reader gets my randomly assigned packet of goods.  Still, I was the most confident I've ever been about the manuscript I submitted this year. 

I think, too, that I also realized that the odds of winning an NEA are better than the odds of winning a book contest and that really got me down.  The NEA awarded 42 fellowships out of just over 1,000 applicants.  When I get rejection letters from presses, I often find out that anywhere from 500 - 800 manuscripts were received and one, ONE, book was chosen.  I'm not a math major, but I think I can see the odds without having to use the calculator on this one.

Seriously, persistence MUST be the poet's mantra.  Try, try, and try again. 

And as a good, good poet friend reminds me, the best we can do is focus on the work and leave the rest to chance.  Onward with ever-thickening skins.
Elephant baby and mama at the St. Louis Zoo...persevering!

6 comments:

mariegauthier said...

Oy, I missed that NEA letdown on FB -- so sorry to hear it, Sandy -- you had every reason in the world to feel confident!

I can't remember with contest that was, but I remember reading that about submitting early, too, and confess it gave me pause. I like to think it's about not inundating them at the last minute...

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, Marie, sometimes it's good to know I'm not the only one!

Charlotte Pence said...

All good wishes for sending off your manuscript. Such an accomplishment! Whoever receives it--early or otherwise--is fortunate.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Aw, Charlotte, you make me feel all warm and appreciated. Thanks! Can't wait to see you in DC!!!

Molly said...

I am a little late commenting here..... but your thoughts on persistence struck a chord for me. I have read so many different opinions on how persistent to be. One poet I admire (and who is "successful" - as in several books and a teaching position) says if you send a poem out to several journals and they all reject it, you probably need to work on the poem more. Then there's the poet who sent a poem to 50 different journals before it was accepted -- and it ended up in the Best Amer. Poetry anthology that year. Who to believe!? Either way, I think you're right that persistence is the poet's path and mantra. Sorry for your thin envelope. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Molly, I think somewhere in between these two dramatically different offerings is the right balance, but who knows? I guess we all just eventually settle on what works for us. Thanks for stopping by!