Bird on a wire; or, On Seeking Publication

Nine percent. That was the rate of return on my lit mag submissions in 2020. Not very encouraging. And it does NOT include the mss I sent out to publishers. (And none of the acceptances came through Submittable, so my database on that miserable site looks particularly bleak.)

So far 2021 is far worse, with still a handful of outstanding submissions lurking around from 2020. I say if a lit mag can’t get to your submission in 6 months, they have to publish it whether they want to or not. I mean, by that point hope has been sparked in the little writer’s otherwise dark and bitter heart. And a year with no reply? That spark has lit the kindling. “Surely that they kept it this long means it’s in the line-up,” the writer begins to allow herself to think, warming her hands on the fire. Come on, lit mags, are you really going to send your hard, cold rain down now, douse the small flame?

Yes. Apparently, yes. Back in 2018 I submitted to a magazine I had been published in before. A year and eight months later I got a rejection. Standard reject, no “thanks for your patience,” no “sorry it took us a while.” (That’s the last they’ll hear of ME. THAT’ll learn ’em.) Not to mention the no-simultaneous-submissions mag that’s now had three poems for six months.

Talk about being nibbled to death by ducks. My goodness po is a terrible biz.

But, wait, in terms of my development as a person, am I not supposed to be cultivating my gratitude toward what I have?

I mean, a chapbook came out just last year!!, winner of a contest!!!. And let’s not forget my two books with such great covers that came out in 2010 and 2014; and my first chapbook (also a great cover), back in 2009 or ’10; and my varied and fun adventures into multimedia: video, dance, music; nice reviews of my books; and a whole bunch of wonderful etcetera. Plus, I mean, a great life. Come on, whiner. Count the blessings.

Yes, yes. Multitudinous.

But I covet. I’m covetous. I want more than what I have. I have graspy fingers. Gollum, c’est moi.

My inner voices go back and forth between those characters in the shadowy doorways of Leonard Cohen’s song: “You must not ask for so much” and “Hey, why not ask for more?”

Writing is a give and take. The world gives, I take and write and give, and ideally the readers take. And give…copies of my books away or forwards of my poems, or my blog posts, for that matter. (Kristy Bowen in a recent blogpost called getting her work out into the world in however small a way leaving breadcrumbs for readers to follow. I love that.) (My sister, by the way, has been a champion of giving my work to others. I’m grateful!) So “acceptances” are a part of that equation, to my mind.

I want ’em. My precioussss.

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