As if writing weren’t hard enough by itself, producing the work is only part of the challenge: sending it out for publication is yet another full-time job. It’s not one I’ve been particularly good at, but I’m getting better, especially since I’ve started subscribing to CRWROPPS, The Creative Writers Opportunities List, a service provided by The Poetry Resource Page, which is a treasure trove of information for creative writers.
CRWROPPS is an email list-serve designed to provide poets and prose writers with up-to-date information about contests, calls for submissions and deadlines. All you have to do is sign up to receive daily email messages regarding publication opportunities in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. There’s no chat and no discussion: just the latest information on calls for submissions, new publications, contests, anthologies, fellowships and residencies.
It’s a lot of information – more than I can cope with on a daily basis, so I send it to an email account I’ve created for newsletters I’m interested in but don’t need to know about on a daily basis. This helps me from being overwhelmed by too much information, yet still allows me access the information – on my terms – when I’m ready, which is usually Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon.
I do this work in my office, that messy place where I don’t file as often as I’d like to, where I make piles of books and papers for the classes I’m teaching, the essays I’m writing, and the notes related to my current novel. This is not where I write fiction or essays; it’s where I conduct the business of writing. So once a week, I go through the emails listing calls for submissions and contests.
Each email contains information for poets, fiction writers and essayists, both contests (with fees) and open calls for submission. I print out the ones that seem likely, and then I go through my file of unpublished stories that I think are ready to send.
Only recently have I started entering contests, of which there are many. While I will send out simultaneous submissions, I’ll only enter a story into one paid contest at a time. Also, to get my money’s worth, I only enter contests where my submission fee includes at least one copy of the magazine. And to make my life easier, I generally only submit to journals that accept work on-line.
For years, I didn’t send stories out on a regular basis, because it felt too much like inviting rejection into my life. And then I met a writer who made as his goal to collect one hundred rejections in a year. He did it – and in the process, placed eight stories. I’m not gunning for that many rejections, but I’ve changed how I feel about them. I used to see them as a sign of failure; now I see rejections as an indication of my effort in that unpleasant but necessary task of sending work out.
Deborah Lee Luskin is the author of Into The Wilderness, “a fiercely intelligent love story” between two 64-year-olds, set in Vermont in 1964. Luskin is a regular Commentator on Vermont Public Radio, an editorial columnist, and a free-lance writer. In addition, Luskin teachers literature and writing in prisons, hospitals and libraries; she holds a PhD in English Literature from Columbia University.