So, I’m ending this year feeling a little bit like I’m spinning my wheels. I spent a long time earlier in the year working on a chapbook and then entering it in a bunch of contests because I really wanted to accomplish that before going back to submitting individual pieces.
Then a long time passed and nothing happened (yet — I think it’s still out at a couple of places. Wait, “think?” — Yep. We’re dealing in pretty high volume here, and I have zero belief that two publishers will say yes to it, but if that does happen, I’ll cross that happy bridge when I come to it. But yes, you’re right, I should absolutely retrace my steps and figure out where all I sent it, lest some type of Three’s Company-type slapstick disaster occur).
Anyway, then it started to feel as if maybe my prior moderate success with individual poems was a fluke, would never happen again, etc., etc. The more time went by, the more that seemed to be true. Don’t get me wrong — I do (mostly) enjoy the creative process for its own sake, but I really like the submitting, publishing, “Ah, here’s my contributor’s copy!” part, too.
So I got busy with Duotrope and submitted many, many poems and enjoyed decent success with those. I had poems accepted by several great publications (which I will resume telling you about *soon*), met lots of nice people online and in person, and was really excited and pleased. And still am — and grateful, too.
But here I am again, in Chapbookland. Or Nochapbookland. I have a manuscript that I like a lot, and I keep thinking that someone else might like it a lot, too — but I can’t seem to connect with the right publisher.
I’m thinking it doesn’t help that the manuscript is made up of persona poems with a pretty strong narrative thread. When I inevitably get the “you didn’t win, but here’s who did” notice, the winning piece often seems to be about, say, the passage of time on a farm, sharpening the saw blades in the weathered, old shed where Dad once skinned a live deer because that’s what you have to do sometimes. You get me? A rural, beautiful, kind-of-disturbing-in-parts recounting of personal experience. There are spikes of narrative here and there, but the writing is mostly lyrical.
I admire things like that, don’t get me wrong — I just can’t write them.
So … any thoughts on how to crack this nut? Am I entering all the wrong contests? Should I let go of the contest thing (and the prospect of prize money) and just focus on finding the right match?
If you’ve done a chapbook, how did you find your publisher, and how did you know it was a good fit? (And no, I really don’t want to self-publish. I know, I know … but I just don’t.)
Many thanks, and whatever your writing goal is, I hope 2014 is the year you reach it!
8 thoughts on “Will 2014 Be the Year I Solve My Chapbook Problem?”
I enjoy your poems, and appreciate how difficult crafting their narratives can be. In fact, I enjoy them so much, I use a few during the poetry section of the lit semester. My students usually like them, too. Regrettably, we lack the capital to fund a prize purse. Perhaps a bake sale would help!
Thanks so much for telling me this, complynn! You’ve made my day. I’m really flattered. If they ever have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them. And I love your bake sale idea …
I wish I had some advice. I am working on putting my first chapbook together and looking at contests. I’d love to see a little bit of hope for both of us. 🙂
Good luck to you, too, David! 🙂 There certainly are a lot of contests out there …
Thank you. It’s enough to make a grown man cry. 🙂
We must continue to plug away and before we know it our writing dreams will turn to reality. Let’s believe 2014 is the year for both of us.
Yes, let’s hope so! What are your writing goals, Joe?
I found out just recently that some of my short stories were published as part of a short story analogy, so i feel like I finally have punched a small hole through that glass ceiling. But the big goal I have and have for so many years is to publish my first novel.
As I get the strongest candidate nearl complete and edited my goal, hope, wish and prayer is that 2014 is the start of a prolific publishing career. It is a mystery, with the type of character that could easily be one of those flagship types as in the such and such series, book 3, 4, 5 and more.
The trick is to get the first one in the hands of someone who holds the same vision I do.