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meet my submission managers: stew and panic

November 1, 2009
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I have good intentions when it comes to submitting my poetry to journals. I make sure I receive news items about journal deadlines. I organize deadlines into a Google document I can sort by journal name or by due date. I network with other poets to learn about additional opportunities.

This is the management guru known as Stew. You may think Stew is completely unproductive, but he’s not. He makes sure I’m ready. For anything. Stew maintains the poems binder. Stew keeps up with the color-coded post-its. Stew properly files cover letters and tracks old submissions.

Three hundred and sixty days a year, that’s as far as it goes. Stew uses many excuses to keep me shuffling papers instead of putting my work out there: I’m too busy. I don’t have any poems. I don’t have any “good” poems. I can’t figure out the submission guidelines. (There are many more of these. I’m sure many of you have this same repertoire.)

But five days or so out of the year, Stew’s good buddy Panic comes to town. Panic is the motivation guru around here. Panic flies in and says, “Jesus Christ, Stew! You haven’t done a thing since I saw you last. You’ll never be a real poet if you don’t get the poems out in the world!” This is how Panic talks.

Once Stew stops hyperventilating (Stew wants to be a really real poet really really badly), he helps Panic match up the proper post-it notations with a suitable journal, and the team manages to get poems out to four or five journals. It’s an imperfect system. I miss lots of deadlines. I spend a lot of time hemming and hawing (Panic’s assessment) and dreaming and planning (Stew’s assessment).

I also spend a lot of time wishing I were more methodical about it (Panic isn’t the most reliable or healthy source of inspiration), but every time I’ve ever tried to be methodical about anything in my life, I’ve failed. It’s never worked for me to say, “Monday is revision day, Tuesday is research day, etc.” I need the freedom to do what I want when I feel like doing it. Indulging like this may mean I’ll never get “there” (wherever that is) or it may just mean it will take me longer. I don’t know.

Perhaps something in between the Stew/Panic team and strict methodology would be more appropriate, but moderation’s never been my strong suit, either. So far, Stew and Panic is the closest thing to functional I have. In fact today they worked well together, and I sent work to three journals. A few more submissions are in progress. Wonder how much I can get out of them before they part company?

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3 Comments
  1. November 1, 2009 11:59 pm

    But you already are a really real poet.

  2. November 2, 2009 9:04 am

    Hey, a system’ a system. And it’s working for you since your poems ARE out there in the world.

  3. November 2, 2009 11:08 am

    What they (^) said. But also: your poems can’t find an audience if you don’t get them out there. If Panic only comes to town sporadically, try to identify those times of year that are best to submit to your most favorite targets, er, journals. Then you can maximize the submissions you do send. And thus you don’t have to change your fundamental being, just adapt it slightly. :)

    (And thank you! Your book’s on the way…)

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