After a great drafting session yesterday afternoon (see previous post), I came to the desk this morning and printed out the new poem but didn't feel it calling for more attention. So I turned to the two rejections in my inbox: one for the book and one for a group of poems. Sure, I felt the twinge of disappointment but I'm well versed in that by now. I opened up Excel and set to recording the episodes as business transactions.
The poems that were rejected brought to mind this post from a few months ago: Submitting Like a Man. In December, I read a post by Kelli Russell Agodon about women not resubmitting work quickly enough when editors requested more. So, when I received a "good rejection" from a certain journal, I sent another batch of poems quite quickly. Today, the new poems came home with a "rejection" stamp on their foreheads and another note to try again. I'll wait a few weeks and then follow that advice, although that quiet voice still lurks, whispering "you're being a pest; you're going to annoy them; you're not supposed to submit so often, &etc."
In trying to silence that voice, I was reminded of the recent conversation spurred on by VIDA's "Count." VIDA = Women in the Literary Arts and is a wonderful advocate for women writers all around. They have set to counting the number of women being published and the number of books by women being reviewed compared to those numbers for men.
What seems to be rising to the surface is that men outnumber women in the slush pile and in solicitations. I may be oversimplifying, but it leads me to wonder, why aren't women writers submitting their work in the same numbers as their male counterparts? (This presumes that there are an equal number of women writing for publication as there are men, and the numbers of women enrolled in writing programs seems to support that presumption.)
I suspect that there is some social programming at work, as we women are trained by society to put others first, every...single...time.
As many of you know, Dear Reader, I am not a mother. This was a choice I made over many years of contemplation and then over several years of discussion with C. Neither one of us has the drive, the deep desire to parent, so this is a good choice for us, and yes, it allows me more time to write and to submit than my fellow women writers who are mothers. Still, I fight the sensation that I'm being selfish when I use my writing time to actually write or submit instead of focusing on my students, my pets, my husband, and my house, which is in a state of perennial disarray.
I also think that there is an economic fact at work. Participating in the business of writing takes money for technology, office supplies, books, conferences, and so much more. If women are trained to put others first in terms of care-taking, we are also trained to put them first economically as well, and there is proof that we have not yet earned salary equity either.
I do hope that these things are changing with a new generation of young women writers coming of age in this new century. Until we know the results of that, I want to encourage, no, to challenge, all of my women writing friends & colleagues to SUBMIT LIKE A MAN! Flood the market with your wonderful work. Send and send and send again. Also, try your hand at writing reviews of women and men alike. Send letters to the editors of your favorite journals either thanking them for the diversity in their pages or pointing out the voices that might be missing. Consider voting with your pocketbook; support journals and presses that show diversity and equity.
In the end, there should be room for us all. In the end, our literature should reflect all of our people, our times, and our concerns. As Whitman says, "[We] contain multitudes."