Saturday, June 11, 2022

the submission wilds

Today, I finally sat down and did something I've been meaning to do for weeks, and every week, I change my mind. Which is, of course, submitting poems out into the world, which I feel like I haven't done in more than a year. Last summer I had a couple days each week I took as vacation, days that were specifically supposed to be for writing business. but I don't remember any acceptances beyond solicited work. Most often, as in the last few weeks, I would look at the poems, then waffle over where to send them.  For one thing, they are usually pieces of a larger or smaller project, so it's hard to divorce them from context.   Also, when I look at my list of potential journals, there are many pie-in-the-sky publications I have been trying on and off to gain entrance into for years. Then  I start to feel like if they were into the kinds of poems I write, wouldn't I have already succeeded? I do have a list of new places I've found via twitter, and these seem hopeful, but sometimes the labor of producing word files and pulling together guidelines, and just making a submission happen seems like a momentous task I don't have the time for. Really, I should be editing my incomplete work, or better, writing new poems. 

Last week, I fully intended to submit pieces from the UNREAL CITY project, but then looking it over, thought it'd be better served to publish it somewhere in it's entirety, which was like 15 pages long. It seemed unlikely anywhere online would want such an unweildy length, let alone a print journal. Then I thought about timelines and waits and really, I wanted it to make a zine debut this year since it's the 100th anniversary of The Wasteland which inspired it. So maybe I should just make the damned zine myself and get it out there to read, which is really what I wanted. It solved the problems to just cut out the middle man.

But then again, I love placing poems in journals, if anything as sort of breadcrumbs. Even if it's just a little taste of a project, sometimes it leads a reader to discover the whole or directs back to my website where they read other things and maybe even buy a book on occasion. Like my entry on gatekeeping and community a while back, I remember how it felt in the early days, when all I really had were journal publications as away to share work and connect with readers and writers. At least with online journals--what I remember of the 90's and submitting--via mail no less--was how isolating the submission process was. You'd place your meticulously printed out pages and SASE in an envelope and it'd usually come back months later with a generic slip, maybe with an ink signature, but usually not.   It was both exciting and devastating to check your mailbox. 

So I pulled together the few pieces from the new project that I feel are really done and assembled them into word docs and sent to three places, two print journals I've tried occasionally for years, and another new discovery online pub I'm really excited about. So we'll see how things go...

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