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.
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.
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!