Let’s assume the Mayans got it wrong and we will see the dawn of a new year. That’s right, no excuses for not looking ahead. It’s time to assess the past year, see what we’ve accomplished and set some goals for the coming year. I feel you cringing already. Maybe because I’m cringing—and writhing! Yes, it’s the dreaded “New Year’s Resolution” time. The January 2nd “Oh, crap, I ate the whole chocolate cake, so what’s the point of sticking to this diet” time.
I’m the first to admit my resolution list is usually written in pencil on a scrap of paper and shredded in a matter of days. But last year, when it came to writing goals, I surprised myself. My practical goal was to send work out. Yes, the Queen of Procrastination and Ruler of the Right-Brained took a pro-active, logical and methodical approach to submitting work to literary magazines.
I’ll give you a minute to get up off the floor.
Inspired by a fellow blogger (I think it was Eric Wyatt http://ericswyatt.wordpress.com/), I set about listing literary magazines I respected and enjoyed reading. I searched literary journal websites, and if I got a good feeling about them (okay, the right brain did have a say in the process!), and I thought my work would be a good fit I put them on the list. I compiled the list from several sources. We’ll get into discovering markets for your work in January.
Next, I organized the list from the most challenging markets to the least, relatively speaking because getting your work read and published is always a challenge. Finally, I looked at the stories I felt were ready to submit, and I started matchmaking. That was the fun part. Right Brain Alert! I imagined my stories within the pages of my favorites no matter how lofty or unrealistic such a goal seemed. I’m proud to say I was rejected by some of the best! A few of the rejections were personal and even mentioned sending more work in the future. When you’re jumping a horse and he lightly taps the fence, we call it a “good rub.” That means he’ll learn to adjust how high he jumps the next time*. To me these personal notes from editors were “good rejections.” They taught me some of my strengths and weaknesses. They were little injections of hope. A tiny pat on the back saying, “You’re on the right track. Carry on, but figure out how to improve, too.”
To make sure I kept up with which stories went where, I set up a chart in Word, including the story name, the journal and contact, date sent, and columns for acceptances, rejections and publication dates. Some writers use Excel, but I would not be alive to write another word if I had to set up a spreadsheet from scratch. There’s just so much Left Brain activity I can generate!
Here’s how June 2011 (when I started my submission process) through December 2012 shaped up. It seems I go through spurts of submitting. Not surprising, I have way more rejections than acceptances. A few “No Responses.” A couple of “Withdrawals” because pieces were simultaneous submissions and they were accepted by one pub before I heard back from others. A few of those “Good Rejections,” and many, many, many impersonal form rejections. Ah, the writer’s life.
In terms of actual writing, I was very lax in the goal department, but I did produce a few flash stories that found homes. I even wrote what I’m interpreting loosely as poetry.
I’ll give you another minute to get up off the floor.
On to 2013! My goals are to submit more often, not be so sporadic. Let’s say at least one story a week or more often depending on submission periods and contest deadlines and what I have available. Write more and on a regular basis, especially, I want to finish a story I started quite a while back. It’s been nagging me. Time to get it done. Play around with other genres—more poetry and give playwriting a shot. There. I’ve committed it to blog, for all to see. I will hold myself accountable, be practical and logical, businesslike and professional. Then, lower the Left Brain volume and crank up the Right Brain, and simply write.
So how did your year of writing and submitting go? Share your plans and offer your tips.
*No animals were hurt in the writing of this blog.