The Practice of Submitting

posted in: The Journey | 0
A field of dandelions on a summer day

Well, I certainly didn’t mean to be gone so long. Unfortunately, when things get super busy, my personal writing gets shuffled to the bottom of the stack – so for the last two months I have been all Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference and Storyknife all the time. And here I am, fetched up on the other side of the conference (which was by most accounts some version of a success) and Storyknife is filled with women writers being awesome. And also, the garden is in.

So, I return to the page. Or, I return to the page and my submission regime. January through March I was unfailingly submitting poems to at least one literary magazine per week. Which means that now I am reaping my failures. (Okay, with at least a couple of successes mixed in). I try to remind myself that if I’m not racking up rejections, I’m not stretching my aim. My research tells me that most of the upper-tier literary magazines reject 95-99% of the work sent to them, and even the more obscure venues are rejecting 92-94% of the work sent to them.

So, expect rejection. My students have invariably asked me where to send their work. My advice is to send your work to magazines that publish work you admire. This means you need to read what they’re publishing, which is really honestly the least you can do. If you want them to give a home to your work, you should read at least one issue of their magazine. Another method, look at the acknowledgements of a poetry collection you love to see where the work was originally published. Two good ways to develop a list of literary magazines to read and submit to.

It’s not an arcane practice. There is a methodology. And there is that noun “practice.” If you want your poetry to reach an audience outside of your circle of friendly readers, you’re going to have to commit to a practice of submitting it. Set aside some time. Organize yourself. And then let those poems fly out like dandelion seeds on a summer day. Don’t get too attached. It’s really the only way to get your work out into the world. (Okay, except for direct solicitations by lit magazine editors and we’ll talk about that in a future posting.)

So, where are your poems flying out to this month?

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