summer of submissions: more legwork

as usual, public domain from wikimedia

Sigh.

Reader, it’s been all about the legwork so far this week. Legwork as in: n. “work or research involving extensive walking or traveling about, usually away from one’s office, as in gathering data for a book, a legal actions, etc.” No, I haven’t been pounding the pavement, but I’ve been traveling about the Internet looking at submissions guidelines, sample poems, and the like.

This morning I sat down with Diane Lockward’s lists of journals that read during the summer months, or some portion of the summer months (lists are here, here, and here). I clicked through and read guidelines and sample work to see which journals might be a good match for the work I have ready to go. I managed to get through the F’s before hearing the pitter patter of feet in the hallway and setting the list aside until tomorrow.

I’ve always found it easier to tell when my work is not right for a journal, rather than when it is, or might be. It’s pretty easy to read sample poems and think, Nope, not a match. But usually I end up with a handful of “no’s”, plenty of “maybes,” and very few, if any, “yes, definitelys.” Perhaps this is the nature of the beast at the beginning of the process.

Tomorrow I’ll continue making my way through the list, weeding out the definitely nots and mulling over the maybes.

I keep reminding myself that although the legwork is not the most exciting or enriching part of the writing life, it is an important task. I liken it to making my weekly menu plans and grocery lists — my most dreaded domestic chores, second only to doing the actual grocery shopping. But, the full cupboards and healthy food at the end of the whole process is worth it, as is the orderly preparation of each meal rather than a last-minute scramble for ideas and ingredients. Not that I’m above the last-minute scramble from time to time, but it’s not sustainable over the long run.

And, I remind myself, my goal is a submissions process that’s sustainable in the long run.

I carry on.

9 thoughts on “summer of submissions: more legwork

  1. “I’ve always found it easier to tell when my work is not right for a journal, rather than when it is, or might be. It’s pretty easy to read sample poems and think, Nope, not a match. But usually I end up with a handful of “no’s”, plenty of “maybes,” and very few, if any, “yes, definitelys.” ” – Molly, this rings so true, I feel like I wrote it! I even find it somewhat satisfying when I’ve been rejected by a publication, but they tell me that a certain poem or two came very close – and it happens to be the one or two that I thought was the best fit. I take my tiny victories where I can get them. Thanks so much for these posts – they brighten my inbox.

    • Ah, the joy of tiny victories! You’re welcome — I’m glad you’re enjoying these posts (and glad I’m not the only one puzzling over the best match for my work). Thanks for reading and joining the conversation.

  2. Having submitted many non-poetry pieces for publication, I’ve realized that once I’ve submitted it’s best to pretend I never did. That I’m casting seeds and some may grow, but most won’t take.

    That said its probably time for me to do some submitting, too. Only one mag is right for my style, so that simplifies things.

    • Karen, I’ve come to the same place — planting seeds but understanding most won’t germinate. Still, there is some satisfaction in mere planting.

  3. Hey, Molly, you probably already do this, but I keep a list of journals from the acknowledgments pages of books I feel a kinship to. While not sure fire, it helps me sort a bit.

    • That’s the thing, Sandy, I should have such a list but don’t! — in my haphazard submitting, I’ve just run back and forth to my bookshelf looking at acknowledgements. You see my need for a system. I’m taking your suggestion as a homework assignment — thanks!

  4. Something you may be already doing but thought I’d mention it just in case as I’m trying to out this summer…when I’ve gone through all the publications I love, where others I admire have been published, etc. I venture to Duotrope and check out the publication pages of the journals where I’ve had work accepted or where I’ve come close to an acceptance. At the bottom of each page there are two groups: “Work Submitted Here Was Also Submitted To…” and “Users Accepted Here Also Had Work Accepted By…” at the very least it exposes me to new journals that I may have missed. We’ll see if this works or not!

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