13 October 2020

The pretentious nature of scrambling to publish poetry.

I am hoping that by writing this little blog, I'm taking some of the pretentious behaviors out of the process of submitting my work for publication. 

This time of year contains the anniversary of the UCC shooting, but it also contains both wedding anniversaries and a divorce anniversary. October brings a lot of baggage with it. And in 2020, with the pandemic and an election year piled on top, I have been trying to avoid pressuring myself to do anything. 

Fortunately, stepping down from being chair combined with the current work-from-home order at UCC gave me ample time to work my writing back into daily practice. As we reach the middle of October, I'm writing and revising nearly every single day. I am proud of that, and I feel lighter as a result. I am not really writing about my ex-husband (late husband?) or the UCC shooting, but I feel like they are now topics that can be easily moved off my desk, so to speak, so that I can get busy with the business of writing poetry that focuses on other topics and other people. 

That being said, I am also just starting to write about my second husband a little bit. There's a lot to unpack there. 

In the past, most of my motivation and momentum for sending work out for publication consideration revolved around my participation in a workshop setting. In graduate school, I sent work out all the time. In the fifteen years since I graduated, I've struggled to stay committed to seeing my work published. I feel that's finally changed this year. I have five months until I turn 50; now is the time.

First, seeking publication is always something I see people keep close to the vest, myself included--writers struggle with rejection and acceptance, but I think we also struggle with the incredible vulnerability of putting ourselves out there--hanging, waiting--for some stranger to pass judgement. 

What journals are "good" journals? What small journals are "too small"? Am I selling my work short by sending to a smaller, fledgling journal, or am I wasting everyone's time by sending work to larger, established, "important" publications? Who knows--I'm not sure any of us know. 

And, I'm being honest--2020 marks eight years since my last poems were published. But, 2020 also marks several new publications that are forthcoming. This is a new start, and a new approach to the process. 

Putting myself and my poetry out there is hard work, emotionally. It's time-consuming, and it's not always a reciprocal process. Sometimes I'm still embarrassed of the mistakes I make, but sometimes I'm also proud of the progress I'm making. Sometimes I look at a poem and think, "that's REALLY good." Sometimes that poem is mine. 

So, I'm looking forward to continuing to write and revise and submit into 2021 and beyond, and I'm going to continue to record my progress and my setbacks here at this little blog. I don't think anyone really reads it, but I feel good about writing it.

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