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!