My combo coffee table/workspace and our goofy pumpkin, Lester

To that, I say, "Yes!"

(P.S. non-writers: Submishmash is an online submissions manager that many journals use as a portal for writers submitting work).

By which I mean submitting is always a mish-mash for me.

First it is a mish-mash of voices that say things like:
--You thought this poem was interesting, but it's boring.
--It seemed decent when you were working on it, but it's not.
--This journal will never publish your work.

And so on down the line. I have recently learned a strategy for shushing those voices. Here's what you do:

Step 1 - Acknowledge the kernel of truth in the statement: "It's true, this journal only accepts 2% of submissions."
Step 2 - Tell what is not true in the statement: "You never know when your poem is going to strike someone's fancy, so it's worth a shot."
Step 3 - Say what is also true: "It's also true that they'll never publish my work if I never send it to them."

This nifty process helps a lot (btw, I'm teaching it to my kids as a strategy for managing negative self-talk, too!).

But then there is a mish-mash of poems: which to submit to what journals, trying to match poem to aesthetic, creating little mini-manuscripts of poems that play well together. Can the Mail Order Bride go with Isis? Does the spider belong with the East Foothills?

And then there is a mish-mash of submissions guidelines, which are all slightly different: contact info on the poem, contact info not on the poem, contact info in an e-mail, attachments only, poems in the text of the e-mail only, paper submissions only please no paperclips. I read them all out loud in an effort to make sure I'm not missing anything, but I'm sure I've missed something once in a while. And how about the snarky guidelines like (real examples): "Don't send us your first drafts." "Don't send your work on a used napkin." "You're not Ginsberg." "Five means five. Five is not the new six." I get that editors probably see everything, but my guess is that most writers are submitting their best work in a professional manner, and the snark feels patronizing to me. My approach is not to submit to journals with snarky guidelines (even though I probably can't afford to be that selective).

And then there is the mish-mash of technical glitches. We've all had e-mails that completely disappear into the ether. We've all had the formatting of something go wrong because of tags inserted in an e-mail program. This doesn't bother me in my regular life, but it worries me in my writing life. Just this month I had an e-mail that I sent to an editor of a journal go missing. When I followed up with her, she said she had never received it. Yet there it was in my sent-mail folder. I re-sent. I know this can happen with snail mail, too, but frankly that's no comfort!

And then there is the mish-mash of trying to submit poems in a house where children live. "DON'T STEP ON THAT PILE OF PAPERS!!!!!!!!!!" (Which reminds me, they will be home any minute. Today is the weekly "minimum day" -- a half-day of school every Thursday. I kid you not. My dad asked this morning if mothers ever get minimum days and I cackled just a little too loud and maniacally).

But then there is the moment of calm when the deal is done. The 'send' button has been hit. You've kissed the stamp and put it in the mail box, the kind you can't reach back into to take something out. Your poems are out there on a journey. You hope they do okay, and you go back inside to file, to neaten up the mish-mash until next time.

I confess, I would almost always rather write and create than submit and file. But I know submitting is part of the job. I've been trying to do more and more of it.

And even though it's a mish-mash, there are sometimes the sweet rewards. I'm happy to say I'll have a poem in the next volume of CALYX.

Whatever mish-mash you encounter today, Reader, may it have its own sweet reward.


drew said...

I really appreciate this post. Says everything I am thinking (especially the snarky guidelines).

Congratulations on getting your work out in the world, and for quelling the naysayers in your head.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Congrats on the acceptance! Great mag!

Molly said...

Thanks, Drew & Sandy.

Ms. WK said...

You are SO legit! You are being published where Barbara Kingsolver did...
Atta girl!

Molly said...

Ms WK, you're biased but thank you :) xo