Submissions and a Collection: A Poetry Headache

I last mentioned where I was at in writing my first poetry collection about five months ago with this post. I’m still very much in the early stages. Where do the early stages end, anyway? I figure there will just come a point when I look around me and go, “Yeah, I’m in this one deep.” I’m not quite there yet.

(I’m laughing at the me that once said “I’ll make sure to spend at least a year on this so as not to rush it.” Oh you sweet, summer child.)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, which means not as much writing. After trying to juggle both for several years and failing at getting much read OR written I finally figured out that the best possible thing I can do is work hard on writing for a month or two, then switch to spending all that time on reading for a month or two. It keeps me from getting burned out on the blank page, it helps refill my brain when I’m starting to feel emptied of ideas, and it means that I get to more thoroughly enjoy reading and writing when not doing them together at the same rate. This is, at least, the system that works best for me. (For now.)

The time I have given to writing this summer has been productive… technically. Meaning I know it has been productive. I have the notes and pages that tell me this. But when it comes to finished content? Very, very little.

Nothing wants to wrap up for me. There’s a particular piece I’ve been working at rather hard that I finished back in July. Sort of. It reads in finished style, but the rhyme and meter is all wrong for not only what is in my head but also how the collection has begun to develop. It doesn’t fit. So I put it away for 2 months, let my mind clear some, and have been at it again this last week only to find it is still being stubborn.

The poem I did finish in July has no place in the collection but I’m damn proud of it. (That’s okay; the collection is my focus but I’m happy to work on any poetry that will work with me.) I’m actually holding on to this one, waiting for submissions to open for a particular journal. I want to try it there first. I feel like it might be a really good fit for them. And if they pass, well, then I’ll start sending it out to others from there.

Speaking of journals and submissions… last week I bought myself a treat:

message in a bottle ornamentOkay, okay, it’s technically a Christmas ornament. (And the flash made that wall color weird, it’s more of a pretty peach than a bizarre orange. I promise.)

This is to remind myself not to give up, because sometimes it’s really, really easy to want to give up on submitting your work. You’ve already put in the sweat of writing it, now you’re taking the time to carefully read all submission requirements and research the publishing history of dozens and dozens of journals… it’s exhausting. Especially when no acceptance notes are rolling in.

So far I’ve sent 43 submissions this year. I have had 2 positive rejections (no room for my work in the journal, but a personalized note discussing the work I submitted) so it hasn’t been all bad. And many of those 43 are still out for consideration. Plus I’d really like to try to get at least another 20-30 out this fall, as so many journals are reopening their submission windows. Heck, I’d love to get 100 out but if I did that I wouldn’t be writing and that’s kind of counterproductive.

But seriously you guys. It can get really tiring rolling up your work, stuffing it into tiny bottles, and tossing those bottles to editors near and far in the hopes that not only is the bottle shiny enough to catch their attention, but that the work inside is also interesting enough to make them stuff it in their pocket rather than leave it where they stumbled over it. (Not to mention the sheer number of options for where to throw your bottles can be downright overwhelming.)

NaNoWriMo is coming up soon though. (In just over a month!) And I plan on using the energy of the month to once again make a big push in my writing time. That means that while I’m doing a little writing right now, mostly I’m spending the next few weeks reading my heart out and letting my collection do the ‘simmer on the back burner’ part of the work as I check in on it only once in awhile to keep it from burning.

I would love to see several more poems find completion before the year is up. I’ll do my best!

What are your fall creative plans?

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2 thoughts on “Submissions and a Collection: A Poetry Headache

  1. Oh, I love that ornament! 🙂 Don’t ever give up!

    I’m feeling the rejection pain, of late. While I’ve received a higher than usual response rate, they’ve all been rejections. Granted, they have been very positive and personalized but I’m still looking for that yes.

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