Today I’ve spent my writing time doing what I’ve been promising myself I’d do for months.
Yes, I’ve actually gone on to submittable.com (the website most poetry magazines use to manage submissions) and submitted five of my recent poems to literary magazines. It’s a scary process and most likely no one will publish these poems.
But you never know. The fortunes of poetry might be with me this week. This last summer I was able to attend a poetry conference and did attend a few workshops on “How to Get Published.” The stories are daunting. One novelist described sending out nearly 200 queries to publishing agents before getting a book contract. The poets tended to fair worse as there are fewer opportunities there.
There seems to be a certain alchemy where, skill, good writing, and landing in the right inbox on the right day is the magic combination – when you are blessed with an editor who will publish your stuff. You rarely get paid. The words “poets” and “starving artist” often are used in the same sentence.
So why try to publish? Validation, and need are two reasons. I’ve invested a lot of effort in my writing and I think these words deserve an audience beyond just my computer hard drive. Perhaps that’s a bit egotistical, but there are days when I read a poem I’ve written and say to myself, “That’s good and needs to be shared.”
Validation is that other thing – perhaps the more common side of me, the part where self-doubt enters in and I just look at my work and say, “This is crap and I’m a horrible poet.” Then there is that unspoken part of every open mic reading or poetry workshop I’ve attended: The “real” poets are the ones with published poems. Of course that’s not true, but it is that thing that quickly separates a room into the published and unpublished.
It’s a kind of badge of honor.
And if just just one editor choses my work, then maybe, perhaps I could get that self-doubt to be quiet or at least take a break.