January 7, 2010

Submissions Calendar

Yesterday, I put together a submissions calendar for the next couple of months. A very ambitious schedule, requiring me to write a bunch of new things. I’m excited about it. Planning always gives me hope and energy, and entering contests and deciding which magazines to submit to gives me deadlines and focus. Right now I can use some of that, with the post-holiday blahs.

Taking a workshop used to give me deadlines as well, but I’m much pickier about workshops nowadays. First of all, where I am limits what I can take, but, second, the workshop has to be taught by someone I really want to work with. Also, taking a class can feel like a cop-out in some ways; I know what I want to write and how to improve ~ by applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair ~ and taking a class is an elaborate and expensive avoidance mechanism. It has to come from in here, not out there. (I know, I know. This contradicts what I said in the first paragraph. We all must have our illusions.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love taking workshops. I love the people I meet and reading others’ work and working with more-accomplished writers. It’s very valuable. I wouldn’t be opposed to getting an MFA some day. (Or teaching at one.)

So here I am working up a round of submissions ~ regular submissions but contests too. In the past, I’ve done at least two massive rounds of submissions per year, but I’m trying to step up the frequency, which will keep me focused on writing new stuff.

The absurdly, wonderfully talented Jacob Appel has won an obscene amount of contests ~ deservedly so. (I don’t know when he sleeps. He must be the hardest working writer and student in the world. He has more publications and degrees ~ including in Law and Medicine ~ than you can count. I am in awe.). He wrote a great piece about entering contests, “The Case for Contests: Why Emerging Writers Should Submit.” It first appeared in Poets & Writers and then on the Gotham Writers site. He makes the case for entering contests, and I buy it. I love the image of him “cuddling up with my checkbook on a Friday afternoon and doling out my meager earnings to literary journals in ten and fifteen dollar increments.”

Hope springs eternal.

What I’m Reading Today: My friend Bonnie ZoBell’s short story “The Whack-Job Girls” at Bartleby Snopes. Such wonderful energy and zazz. I very much enjoyed it! (And could take a lesson from it on pure poetic momentum.)

PS Today is my birthday!

PPS I seem to be getting carried away with the PSs lately.

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