My Blue Muse Writing Life

February 17, 2004

One Poet's Submission

Some call it a game, but it's not really. It's more like an IQ test where you're asked to create associations between three or four objects and then fit them into a particular shape. All the shapes are all a bit different, but all the same in that editors want to see your best stuff. So you work and work at those three or four objects then one by one cram them into this empty shape and hope one of them falls through.

An editor wants your best but this really involves the paranormal; the ability to read his mind, his mood, and his needs in a particular time and place. It also involves a bit of a the grift too, shifting them around: best first, best last, three poems, four poems, simsub, don't simsub; until you've worked yourself into such a state you're not sure what "best" means anymore.

Surely, if you spend hours working to get the nuance of a poem just right: reading it aloud over and over, working the sounds and rhythm, building in layers of meaning, carving out precision line breaks, flipping through your thesaurus to find the perfect word, reworking the ending until it's just right, you finally get to a place where when read aloud, you feel a contentment, a physical sensation, a vibration--one you hope the reader will share. This is my best work.

My poems are separated into three piles: finished, under construction, and abandoned. Of the "finished" poems these are separated into three additional piles: submitted, unsubmitted, and sim subbed. This calls into play a different side of my brain; the analysis of product placement and salesmanship. The success of any salesman is the ability to match a quality product with a satisfied buyer; to predict the buyer's needs, to seek out an insider's knowledge of his market. More often, the buyer keeps searching and the seller polishes and rearranges his stock so to best draw the next buyer in.

The religion of my work is praying for the acceptance. Submission and acceptance. It sounds like faith. What about the gamble, though, the ritual in assembling the packet, in folding of the SASE, in kissing the envelope for luck, in crossing your fingers before checking the mailbox. Once a submission is out the door all you can do is hope and pray, and hope and pray. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.

And what I find most often happens is that what sells is not what I thought. There is pride and delight when a piece that I didn't expect to get snatched up does. This has happened enough times, that I'm forced to accept that what I consider my best work and what an editor thinks is my best may not be the same thing.

Where does this leave me? By all rights, it should leave me stuffing envelopes willy-nilly. But that doesn't happen. After all, one of the poems I carefully placed in the submission was accepted; there must have been a science to it after all, even if it was a paranormal one. A prescience.

So, then, in the end what it takes is hard work, patience, faith, a crystal ball, and a little bit of pixie dust. And it never gets any easier. Ever.

Posted by mybluemuse at 8:18 PM

February 5, 2004

That's all ....

Iíve been a submitting fool. My most excellent poet buddy, Kelly Russell Agodon, and I have been setting, meeting, and blowing away submission goals that weíve set. Itís been so good to get back to writing. Iíve been working on some of my short fiction and sending that out, too. I suppose the proverbial shoe will drop when the rejections start to roll in. However, it seems that somethingís changed this time around. Iím not going to let my submissions dwindle to nothing this time. Some advice I got awhile back was to have the next submission packet ready to go. Assume rejection and jump up and down for an acceptance.

One thing, the difficulty with having submissions drop down so low, is dealing with those five or so that are DIW. The OCD side, ok so itís more than a side, of me hates loose ends. I mean really hates them. Yet, the introverted side keeps/kept me from sending out pleas for a response, when clearly the response is NO, Thanks! So I created a field for them and ejected them out of my Pending Submission report.

So, letís see, what Iíve revealed about myself in these entries is that Iím physically shot, compulsive, introverted, dance a little jig when any praise comes along, and damned excited to be back working. Thatís okay.

One last thing, oh, and itís been a very long time since Iíve thought, said, felt these words, ďIím happy.Ē

Thatís all. Just Happy. A simple peaceful thing to be.

Posted by mybluemuse at 8:19 PM
This site Copyright 2008. All content is wholly owned by P. J. Taylor. No content may be copied or reproduced without the expressed, written permission of the owner.