I have no idea where the expression “Once more into the void!” comes from, but I feel as though I have taken a leap into various voids often in my ever-extending life. Ever-shortening, too. The longer it gets, the shorter it gets. A paradox for you this fine New Year’s Eve day.
Anyway, the new cliff-jump is submitting full poetry manuscripts for publication. Unlike sending three to six poems to journals, where you can actually dodge reading fees with a little nimble research, this new phase brings expenses and with it, I’m sure, expensive realities. You cannot possibly get editors to sit down and read a 32-poem ms. (the chapbook version) or a 73-poem ms. (the full boat book version) without ponying up some cash, anywhere from $15 to $30 a pop. This money is designated for editor(s) to tell you that your poems are mediocre at best. They are also wrapped in the prayer that your work will be seriously considered. Money upfront is never a negotiating strongpoint, but let’s hope that people are in this business for a reason — they love poetry!
Along with this new void comes questions: How often? Contests yes or contests no? Am I patient enough for a process that may take years? Can I fight a two-front battle, marketing the old while continuing to churn out the new, all while holding down full-time work as a teacher?
The first lesson I have learned, in the short span of 10 hours, is this: It is dangerous to keep your credit card near the computer. Last night at a late hour I submitted my first ms. ever and used the credit to pay the reading fee. I left the card and, overnight while England slept, it clearly struck up a conversation with the computer. Got chummy. Winked. Said, “Hey, how ’bout a little action?”
So this morning, looking for the bookmarked link to this blog, I accidentally hit the link to Poet & Writers list of Literary Journals and Magazines. Next thing you know, I’m saying, “By God, I’m a poet now! I’ve been published eight (count ’em!) times, and I’m paying people to slog through dozens of these things now. If that’s not official, what is?”
End result? I entered a 2-year subscription to P&W. Hey. The card was there. And the computer. And I had just been told by my good virtual friend Joan that this magazine is a must if you take yourself seriously as a poet. Fearing I took myself more as a joke, I jumped, laughing all the way.
Happy New Year, my friends. May 2015 bring surprises!