So since I’m closing submission to the first issue of Red Dirt Review today, I figured I would be spending my evenings this week working on that project. Then Special K reminded me that it’s time to do another recording session for The Gambling Tales Podcast, so that’ll fill in one evening. Then I checked my calendar and saw that there’s a meeting of the Charlotte Writer’s Club Tuesday night, so that’s another evening. And Reservior Dogs opens Thursday, and I’m reviewing it for Charlotte Viewpoint, so another evening is occupied. Just Do It is taking place this Friday at Theatre Charlotte, so that night’s full as well. And there’s a poker game Saturday night. And I’m driving to Atlanta Sunday to get there in time to cover the Sunday Warm-Up for the PokerStars Blog.
Yup, life’s getting pretty much back to normal, which means I’m busier than a one-armed paperhanger. I did manage to get some submissions of my work ready this weekend, and sent a bunch of stuff out. I’ve been using Duotrope’s Digest to search through a bajillion places online that accept poetry, and I’ve started limiting myself a bit. As I get rejections (and a few acceptances) I’ve decided to start only sending out the stuff I feel the best about. I know that seems like a no-brainer, but in the rush to get submissions going, the temptation to send out mediocre product is pretty overwhelming. But that dilutes the brand, and since I am my brand, I need to make every effort not to have stuff out on the world that isn’t my best work. Unless it’s here, because it’s almost acceptable to be mediocre on your own blog. Almost.
So as I clear my current round of submissions, I’m going to focus on sending out fewer packets and making them stronger submissions. I’ve found that when I send out stuff that I feel really good about, it’s just a matter of finding the right market for them. For example, two poems that I wrote and got rejected from their initial 2-3 submissions I still felt were really good poems, so I kept slinging them out there until I found a place where they would stick. Dancing with Fireflies was picked up by Victorian Violet Press, along with a reprint of Gingham, from Returning the Favor.Those should run in their May issue. Now I might be the last person you’d expect to have a poem in something called the Victorian Violet Press, but the stuff they run makes them a very good fit for those particular pieces. And Deuce Coupe has picked up another of my poems, called Death of a Small-Town Sports Hero, which I really like because I think I got the imagery right in there. I’m not sure when it’s running, but it’ll be soon. Their turnaround time on responses and publication is pretty super-fast.
Now both of these poems had been initially rejected by the places I first sent them to, but I really felt good about the pieces, so I kept on plugging. But as I received a few rejection letters this weekend, I started to realize that I had submitted some things that even I didn’t like! So no wonder they weren’t getting picked up. So I created another sub-folder in my Writing folder, labeled “Meh,” for stuff that I’m done with, but I’m just not crazy about.
Oh yeah, folders. That’s how I work on stuff. I tend to hand-write my first drafts, because it just feels better to do it that way, a little more visceral. Then I type it into Word (I save everything as a .doc because some folks can’t open .docx, and it just saves me a step) and put it into a folder labelled Work in Progress. Then I typically let it stew for a day or week or whatever, until I get on an editing binge, and go back over and tweak things. Very, very few pieces do I consider ready to send out after just the second draft. The typing bit always turns into a revision phase as well as a transcription phase, which is probably another subconscious reason for creating the process that way. Even the pieces that I do think are finished after the second revision usually go through one or two passes in that draft.
So once I’ve gone back to a piece in the Work in Progress folder, and polished that turd until it shines, I move it into a folder labeled Ready for Prime Time, which in my head means it’s ready to be submitted. Once it’s submitted, if it’s sent to a place that allows simultaneous submissions (and unless the venue is typically very cool or very fast, I only submit to sim/sub venues) it goes into a folder that reflects that. If I send it to a venue that doesn’t accept sim/subs, it goes into another folder. Then I log the submission into an excel spreadsheet with the title, venue and date submitted. Once I get a response, I update that info and date into the spreadsheet.
If a piece is rejected, I take a look at it again to see if I think it needs more polish, and if I don’t think so, it goes back into the submit file. If it’s accepted, it goes into the Accepted folder. So this whole process takes some time to manage, and sometimes I get carried away in the whirlwind of that mess and forget to write and polish. So I’m going to cut down on my volume of submissions to no more than three submissions per week, and focus on only sending out work that is a solid representation of what I want out in the world with my name on it. After all, I have a blog to post drivel on, right?
But still, if my unspoken goal for the year was to have one piece accepted each month, and I’ve had seven acceptance letters by mid-February, I think we might be doing okay on our plan.