Saturday, February 13, 2016

Finally Getting My Submission On

40º ~ bright, clear sunshine, the kind of clear that only seems to happen in the coldest months

I've spent the day with my B-I-C (butt in chair), thanks in part to a helpful spouse who brought me lunch, and now my energy wanes and my stomach grumbles. Still, I have been too absent from this space, so I'll push through (and know that a smoothie will be my reward!).

The first two hours of my chair-time today were spent reading, contemplating, and critiquing student poems for my graduate poetry workshop. Their work fairly sparkles on the page and today it inspired me to stay in the chair and continue on with my own work of revising and submitting. Happily, I drafted two new poems in the last three weeks via writing with my students in several classes.

While I knew I wanted to work on submissions again today (I sent out two non-simultaneous submission packets earlier in the week), I also knew that I needed some time to re-familiarize myself with the poems that are floating around in various stages of dress and undress.

I began by flipping through my "ready to go, but not out there" stack. Lo and behold, I found more tinkering revisions. These are not sweeping, but with distance comes clarity, clarity regarding where the lines might be muddied or bogged down. After a few nips and tucks, I felt confident again in the stack as a whole. Therefore, I turned to my "drafts" stack and began reading out loud, slowly. I listened for which drafts felt the most whole, the most "ready," and those I set to one side. Knowing my goal of submissions, I put the other more unfinished drafts away for another day. That kind of revision takes its own session. Again, I proceeded through the stack, making slight tweaks or significant whacks, adding in a line or two, as well. Eventually, I found two more poems that needed more work than I had space for today and set those aside as well.

Finally, I flipped through my "ready to go" stack, now a bit heftier, and found four poems that "worked" as a mini-manuscript. I know not everyone does this, but I find more confidence in submitting when my little bundles hold together either thematically or in form. Having my list of targeted magazines that I compiled earlier in the week, I went to work, this time sending one packet out to simultaneous journals.

In essence, my process has not changed significantly over the years, although now I do much more record keeping online, and I no longer have a separate manilla folder for each poem, as I no longer need to print out so many furious versions. Still, submitting takes time and quiet, just as writing does, and it takes a willingness to root out the weak spots, the wonky lines, the cliches slinking through the middle stanzas. I'm fortunate to have had such time and such quiet today.


Kathleen said...

As always, I love your process notes! I've just begun to send out again, too, and I have a similar experience with revision. Best wishes and Happy Valentines Day!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, K!