Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Friday Submissions: Progress Report

So, awhile back, I blogged about making submitting your writing part of your schedule.  I suggested Fridays--every other Friday to be exact.  Well, we're almost at the end of the month, which means this Friday could be your second submission Friday.  It will certainly be mine.

How's it been going?

For me, it feels awesome.  I submitted a heck of a lot of things almost two weeks ago, and I have a few more to submit this Friday, thanks to some suggestions from my adviser.  I have to say....I like the schedule and the rigidity enforced by this policy.  It forces me to have new stuff ready OR to find more markets for stuff that's already out.  This is the kind of thing I find it nearly impossible to make time for without such a structured schedule.

I really like the feeling of having so many pieces out and about.  Every morning, when I wake up, I think about checking my email.  Will today be the day?  Even if I get nothing but rejections (and I'm sure they're coming), it's still a mark that I held up my end of the deal.

Something else that helps me feel less bad about rejections is to visit the website for the journal(s) you're submitting to, and read the contributor bios.  Most of the stories published in literary journals are from professors who run English departments or MFA programs.  Many of them have won Pushcarts, book prizes, national awards, etc.  When I think about what they've done and what I've done, I feel a little bit better--I'm not at this level yet, obviously.  But I can get there!

If you're determined to be upset by rejections (and let's face it, some days, that's just how it goes), reading the contributor bios can help you in a different way.  Once you see that most of the contributors are professors or MFAs or part of the "establishment" in some way, you can start to see yourself as a kind of crusader.  An anti-establishment writer.  Someone determined to buck the odds.  So what if I don't have a PhD?  So what if I don't chair the English department at a small, northeastern liberal arts college?  It doesn't mean I don't produce kick-ass stories.  It just means I'm going to have submit more, take more rejections, submit even more, and work even harder to break through the cloud of incest that seems to hang over a lot of literary journals.  On really bad days, I think, well, they probably liked the story but not my bio.  And if that's what it takes to inspire you to do even better, so be it.