Friday, June 3, 2016

Keeping On Keeping On (The Submission Slog Song)

74º ~ a morning of drizzle with the sun now trying to break through a heavy layer of white clouds, all is humid and soggy

Getting back into the swing of my writing life in earnest means getting back into the swing of submitting poems to journals for possible publication. While poetry receives the least attention and the least compensation from readers and editors across the board, there is a perk. We usually have tons of "pieces" to submit. A novelist may work on a book for years before getting to the process of finding an agent and publisher. A short story writer or essayist can only send one piece at a time to a journal or magazine. Not so the poet. Yes, we labor over our one- to two-page poems for hours, days, months, years, etc., but we build up a stockpile of work and we are able to submit 3 - 5 poems at a go.

Yay, us!

Well, a subdued yay, anyway because the flipside is thickening one's skin to a slew of rejections.

After being out of the habit of regularly submitting, I have quite the stockpile of unpublished poems. I've spent the last week or so combing through those poems and making final polishing tweaks. After polishing, I grouped the poems into batches of 3 - 5. Then, once the piles were ready to go, I had to go back to my time-worn Excel spreadsheet of journals and start looking for places to send the poems. No matter how much research I've done in the past, I still have to do more. That journal that has always read in the summer? Nope, they're taking this year off. That lit mag that used to refuse simultaneous submissions? Nope, now they take 'em, meaning I have to shift my stacks. And onward the process goes.

*This process only works because I've spent years being a reader of lit mags and learning which journals might be receptive to my style. There are no short cuts, not even submission-bombing all the currently open markets listed in Duotrope, which takes even more time, and I don't believe yields greater results.

After much work, I have submitted mini-manuscripts to 14 journals in the last week. Most of the packets were 4 poems each.

Here's a new observation for me about the process.

I have to be bright-eyed and energetic (read: first thing I do for the day) or the doubt seeps in through the slog of preparing files and I decide the poems aren't ready. It's a hard balancing act. I want to be as careful as I can to send poems that are "ready," but I started to notice that the later I went in the day, the more poems were labeled "not ready." Looking at them the next morning, I had a new confidence.

Now, only time will tell if the confidence is well placed. Such is the poet's life.

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