At a recent writer’s conference, I was talking to a poet who mentioned wanting to be published for the first time.
“How many poems have you sent out to literary journals so far?” I asked.
“None,” he replied.
“How many of the poems you never submitted do you think might get published?” I countered.
He was stumped for a minute, and then we both laughed.
Recognize yourself here?
We can’t predict what will happen when we take the risk to send out our work for publication. But we can be 100% sure that we won’t be published if we never try.
I’m not saying it’s the right time for you to be sending out your work. Only you know that. What I am saying is that if you’re ready to have your writing in the world and you’re not taking the steps toward that path, it may be time to reconsider.
Need a jolt of courage? I’ve got you covered!
Need a clear plan for how to make publication a priority in your life? This simple worksheet has helped hundreds of poets and writers like you simplify and amplify their work.
Want to establish or enhance your writing practice so you have more poems to submit? Let’s do it together in April!
Because I tend to prioritize writing over publishing, finished work can accumulate for years. In December, I made a commitment to start sharing my stockpile of poems and essays that have never traveled beyond my own computer screen.
I researched publications, responded to a few invitations from editors, and sent out several batches of work. In February, I had four poems accepted for publication (thank you, Kosmos Quarterly and The Midnight Oil!) along with a number of rejections.
Because I made it a priority to send them out, four more of my poems are entering the world.
Because I’ve scheduled a bi-weekly “submissions” session for the rest of 2019, I know I can count on myself to sustain my momentum of seeking out communion with readers.
Plus, sending my work out keeps me engaged in revising and refining. As if there were someone out there counting on me to share finished work that is worthy of them.
This is how the quest to publish becomes a virtuous circle.
Write, revise, submit, repeat. Over time, this process refines us and our work to what is most essential. It gives us a better understanding of our place in the literary community. Most importantly, we learn we can count on ourselves to do what matters—even when it’s scary, even when we can count on rejection and discouragement—and be better for it.