Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On Immortality, and Submitting Work

We write for pleasure, despite the pain of it. We write as a hobby (some people grow gardens, we grow our words). Many of us write because we're simply hard-wired to do so, whether we're good at it or not. And some of us write for glory. I will admit, I decided at a very young age that I didn't want physical immortality. Even as a kid, I had been sick, seen enough health problems of the old, and had seen enough B-movies on the subject to understand that it's probably not all it's cracked up to be. Now, I'm talking about physical immortality, of course. I did, however, figure out the best way to live forever.

The people who stuffed my shelves with their pages pretty much lived forever, didn't they? I mean, I mightn't have liked Shakespeare at all as a person, but it doesn't much matter - I love his poetry, and it has lasted hundreds of years. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Donne, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Stephen King...it's pretty sad. Most of my favorite people, I've never even met but on the page. A lot of them happen to be dead, and it doesn't much matter. What a nifty trick! Yep. I'll admit it. The librarian in me and the poetess in me converge in complete agreement on at least this one point: I covet my own ISBN number. I want to be immortalized in (preferably acid-free) paper, safely nestled in various libraries with my contemporaries and forebears. I mean really - do you think that Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu and Marx would have ever gotten along at a dinner table? Likely not, but they sit peaceful as lambs together on the library shelf, and we can dig for their likely dinner conversations by placing their words side by side and examining them. What a legacy!

I am in no way comparing my talent to the folks above. I mean, I enjoy what I write, about more than half of the time, and I hope others do. But that's not the point. The point is that in addition to my impulse to write (a power under which I am powerless), I have a maddening urge to grab that immortality if I can. Which leads us, of course, to the subject of submitting work, and editors, and the various other nightmare beasties that plague the sleep of a writer.

Let me direct you to one of the best sites that lists writing markets in detail: Duotrope. Better than Writer's market, if only because it's easier and faster to use, and they update the markets and let you know who's closed regularly. What I like is that they also let you run a search so you can limit your results to only print or only electronic publications. Since I have been published only by the online folks so far, my goal is to break into the print journals. After all, who knows how long a website will last? And there are a lot of venerable, respected (well-read!) journals out there that I'd like to leave my dirty fingerprint on, in the hopes someone will stumble across me and enjoy my work. And (selfish, I know) remember my name.

In the pursuit of publication, I have entered a number of contests, but those get expensive in a hurry if you're a poetess on a budget. I'm also pretty good about sending actual mailed (the SASE kind) submissions, as well as the email submissions that are becoming more popular. Last night I sent submissions to fourteen print journals. That's right. FOURTEEN. I am a submitting rock star *grin* I figure if I can do that twice a month, I'll get a steady stream of rejections that will keep my head from getting too big and remind me to revise, with the occasional acceptance thrown in just to make me keep trying.

Take a look at Duotrope, if you've got the stomach for rejection (unless of course you don't get rejected, which is fabulous and rare). Best of luck with your submitting. Perhaps we'll meet in the slush pile!

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