Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Can't handle the wait

I guess I've never submitted such a large volume of poems over the summer because, well, this is ridiculous. I worked hard for several months, sending out at least three batches of poems every week- that went on for about two months starting in March, and then I would just resend what I would get back somewhere new. Of corse, the response time varies, and I'm more accostomed to the 2-3 week rejection than I am to the 3 -4 month rejection. I sent a long docu-poem "Daybreak"(a research-based piece about and for the women of Afghanistan) to the Marlboro Review in March and didn't get a rejection until a few weeks ago. . .I halfway imagined they might actually take it. Anyway, after being rejected from the pies-in-the-sky like Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, I started submitting to places recommended to me by friends and random places I found on the web that I thought looked cool and fit my aesthetic. Bought a few subscriptions and purchased a few sample copies, sent out more stuff, and more stuff, and more stuff. And now I'm plum out of stuff. It's bizarre. For so long, I would dedicate at least 2-3 hours a week just to submitting, but until I write some more stuff worthy of publication, I'm just playing the waiting game. It's brutal. I figured things would move more slowly during the summer months (all publications I've ever edited were on hold over the summer, in fact) but this is ridiculous. I still have poems out to Conduit and The Southeast Review from the beginning of March but I am afraid to query them because of some horror stories I've read on other blogs, like editors saying "Leave me alone, I already rejected your crappy poems" etc. Does anyone have a take on the ettiquette for such a thing? I mean, if they're not going to take them, I want to send them somewhere else. If they are, well then, I don't want to miss my chance of getting into their mags. I'm perplexed. Is it kosher to simultaneously submit if you haven't heard from a publication in, say, four months? Or am I just too obsessed and need to sit back, relax, and let the rejection letters come as they may (and maybe the occasional acceptance. . .)? Four months just seems like an awfully long time to wait.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get reading done for my exams but my insane son has developed a case of mommy-addiction. I ca nbarely leave the room without him screaming bloody murder, nevertheless leave him with the babysitter. I doubt I'll be able to be ready for exams in April only studying on evenings and during nap times- something's gotta give.

We braved a sweltering evening of clothing exchanges and poetry on Monday, and unfortunately for me, my first glass of wine went straight to my head and stayed there for most of the night. Most of my comments were lacking, to say the least. Here's a picture of us, glazed with sweat and Chianti. I scored some awesome clothes from Simone to round out my new wardrobe. And we said goodbye to Mary, which was utterly sad, and I still don't have a sense of closure about the whole thing- she's been such a good friend and confidant through this whole baby thing, it'll be much more lonely without her here. But her new job in Akron sounds amazing and her new house is awesome, so onward and upward.


Scott Glassman said...

I got chastised recently from the Listening Eye after having to withdraw a poem because I had another place accept it. But I hadn't heard from them in over 4 months and their stated reporting time is 1 month, so I felt justified in sending them out somewhere else. God, the entitlement of journals sometimes, and this one isn't even close to a top-tier one. I'm getting a tad tired of the friendly rejection note too: "nice start" "keep writing" "interesting work" and my favorite one of the month: "i liked your poems. oh by the way i'm from the town you grew up in." thanks a lot. that tidbit about your background really eases the sting. i'll file it away somewhere safe. thanks pal. all worth the 37 cents.

C. Dale said...

4 months doesn't seem that long to me. I have waited 9 months or more on poems I have sent out. Just write more poems. Write ones better than the last ones you wrote. Submitting is just a process. You will kill yourself if you start spending all your time trying to keep up with sim subs. Why not spend that time on writing or something else?

poetzie said...

Thanks, C.Dale- that's helpful. I'm relatively new at this whole submission thing, so it's great to have multiple perspectives. I know you're right about "writing more poems," and simultaneous submissions. There's something about doing the "work" lately that feels good. . .If anyone has suggestions of good places to send poems to, that's welcome as well.

Scott Glassman said...

Cider Press Review might be a good place. South Carolina Review too.

Scott Glassman said...

c. dale, yeah, I know 4 months isn't a long time. Sometimes I've waited almost a year to hear. But don't say your reporting time is 1 month if you're going to take 6! The editor ultimately acknowledged that the listing had to be changed.

Justin Evans said...

I am new around these parts, but I have a pretty long history of submitting and being rejected. My record wait is 18 months. After that, it is 63 weeks---both by the same journal.

My best advice is to go by their own words. Most places will say 6-8 weeks or 8-12 weeks. Whatever they say, go by that. I have more than once sent an e-mail asking for further information after the response time has expired. I usually wait 2 weeks after that period before asking, but just give a very gentle reminder of their period. Craft the letter or note to suggest that it's no big deal. Be understanding that things get busy.

By the way, I was willing to wait because inbetween such long waits were very quick responses---like two weeks. I also always received personal feedback from the editor. For each of the rejections I received, I had to inform of poems going somewhere else, so it was even less of a bother waiting so long.