A quick note, because I’ve been guilty about the somewhat disappointing mid-year report and don’t want you to think that I just sit around and whine (I know no one who knows me thinks that, but I get paranoid). Since writing that post, I have:
- Submitted 3 stories to 13 places (hooray for simultaneous submissions!)
- Written a first draft of a story
- Resumed editing a story I’ve been sitting on, meaning to rewrite
- Published the guest post at the Canary Review
This week, I started getting up at 7:10 instead of 7:25, and am using the extra 15 minutes to write a little before I go to work. It’s helping! I can get about 300-350 words out in my bleary state, which means I only need 150-200 or so when I get home to meet my 500/day goal. Admittedly, I’ve only been getting up early for four days as I write this, but I plan to make it a new habit.
While seeing how far I’d fallen short of my goals was disheartening, writing it out and holding myself accountable does seem to give me a kick toward better progress. I told Andrew that sometimes it’s not even as much a matter of getting back on the wagon as it is finding out where the damn thing went. I feel good about this last month, though. Wagons ho!
I submitted my first three things of this month today. According to the goal I laid out for myself, these should be Submissions 11-13, instead of 1-3. I had a wonderful, wonderfully busy week, but procrastination creeps into the picture as well. On the other hand, I did get three things out, which compared to most days is a success. I guess what I am wondering right now is if I’m doing better than usual, but not as well as I want to be doing, is that a step forward or back? Do I mark this day up as a (small) success, or a mad scramble to cover last week’s slacking?
I’ve historically struggled with how to judge my own achievements. I tend to have much higher standards for myself than for other people around me, so that the fact that I think a fellow student or co-worker is doing a good job is not enough to translate for me into thinking I am doing well, too, even if I am doing as well or better. One of my best friends got used to me having a crisis whenever a new story was due.
“Of course it won’t be a train wreck,” she’d say. “How do I know? Nothing else has been a train wreck so far, and you are working really hard on this.”
And when I do work hard, it’s true, I tend to do very well on the projects I take on. But is this working hard? If I do three or four submissions every day this week, I can catch up, so maybe today is good, but that still leaves all the other days to consider. What I think I would really like to do is join one of those writer’s groups I hear people talking about from time to time. Kind of like my MFA classes, except instead of pushing us to read new, good stories and try to write new, good stories ourselves, this group could just kick all of us in the pants to send things places. I’d probably still get paranoid about whether I was making any progress, but it would be nice to ask some more people if they feel the same way I do.
Hey–the realization is dawning that if I’m going to keep that sending-things-out promise, I need to get cracking. It’s been a busy weekend (and a happy one), but for various reasons (including simple procrastination), writing’s fallen to the side a bit. In lieu of doing a chipper, dutiful job of writing a post here, I think I owe it to Writing Me to let to licking some envelopes. I’ll be back with a proper post as soon as I have some mailing to tell you about!
“Submission” is a funny word for the process of sending out work. It makes it feel like it should be a passive process. My mind goes for the classical Greek metaphor, imagining some demure temple acolytes padding silently toward the altar of Publishing, clean white papers ready in hand for the sacrifice. Then, once it’s gone, it’s gone, to be accepted or rejected according to the whims of the Editors.
That’s the tricky part, you see: the acceptance or rejection. That’s what means that submissions cannot be passive, or all that submissive. It’s a lot more like the version of sacrifice where you need six or eight muscular men and thick ropes to drag some roaring animal up to where it can already smell the blood of the others. The Publishing Gods are more known for their silence and disapproval than their welcome, you see, so offerings have to be frequent and animated enough to call the attention of those who see thousand similar creatures every day. It is exhausting even to think about. Maybe there are other writers who can flippantly whip submissions into the mail, but I am not one of them. I need a certain amount of prep time to psych myself into looking up magazines, reading guidelines, looking up whether that editor with the ambiguous name is a Mr. or Ms., and shuffling through the stack of things I want to send out. By the time I get through two or three of these, I’m feeling pretty beat, which is not so good if I figure an honest-to-goodness freelance writer must have to send out dozens every week.
I do realize, however, that it’s really silly to make myself a cute little writer’s site if I’m only going to be publishing blog posts. So today I sent off five pieces in one swoop, all different: a memoir essay, a story, a handful of poems, an article, some recipes. If nothing else, you cannot fault me for not offering something from any genre I know how to write. And it does feel relieving to see them crossed off my list, even if I’m feeling a little drained. Now to see if the offerings appeal, right? Editors, I believe it is your move.