Thursday, September 29, 2005


That last Anna Akhmatova post was so gorgeous I couldn’t resist leaving it up top for a few days. Now I suppose I’ll be pushing it swiftly down into oblivion.

The next few days, though, I’ve resolved to focus not on blogging – which can get pretty consuming – but on writing and on submissions. Submissions-wise, it's high time for another round.

I'll make a confession though: I’ve never been all that good about submitting.

My wont to submit waxes and wanes, but has mostly remained in a kind of waxing/waning gibbous phase in some dim, twilit, irritated corner of my consciousness.

Why I have this block – and it is a block, I have a lifetime of non- and minimal submission to show for it – is the result of a complex blend of attitudes, aptitudes, and temperament that would take a while to get into, and is probably not worth getting into here.

Whatever the reasons, I take the longest time to do submissions, and even a longer time to get around to doing them.

It’s not even as if I’ve been all that unsuccessful when I’ve set my mind to it.

Probably the number of submissions I’ve made altogether you could count on ten pairs of hands. The number of acceptances, one pair.

That’s not too bad an average.

One thing, though, editors won’t have to worry much about those dreaded multiple submissions they always talk about from me. If I could get one copy of all that I deem “submittable” out at any given time, it would be a major accomplishment.

Today, rather than submit, I thought a bit about the word “submit”. (And wrote about it here -- another good way to stall the process.)

Why do we call them “submissions” anyway? It always struck me as … well… submissive.

Why not “assertions”?

I’m asserting my poems, asserting my manuscript.

That feels much better.

Other possibilities: Circulations. Unleashings. Bestowals. Reincarnations. Transliterations. Transpositions. Transubstantiations. (Practically anything with trans.). Irradiations. Anything but submissions.

Does anybody have further suggestions? (I'm thinking positive here... adjectives referring to bodily functions etc. I'll leave for the inevitable REJECTIONS, another common term in this process that could use a facelift...).


David Leftwich said...

I completely understand the submission-lag problem. I haven't submitted (surrendered) in over a year – it doesn’t help that I lost my e-copies when my hard drive crashed and I haven’t retyped much from the hardcopies.

Your observations about “submitting” are spot on…it’s rather an SM and humiliating process/phrase—you are basically “relinquishing” control of your work to an editor/judge/reader.

“Assertions” is good…how about “affirmations” (or is that too self-help, something clipped to a car’s sun visor and repeated every morning while stuck in traffic)? Or “declarations” (or is that too confident…”I, Teddy Roosevelt, declare that my poems must be read?”)

Oh well, good luck with the submissions…the good kind...not the kind that resemble a stray dog with its head hung low and its tail between its legs…

Brian Campbell said...

"Affirmations" was an obvious one I didn't think of, although it is as you suggest a little wooshy. With "declarations", I think of customs officers: "Do you have anything to declare?" Maybe "determinations" is a good one -- although it could be seen as grim, the kind of face you put on you try to bash your way through a steel door with your bare shoulder. Hmmm... perhaps "confrontations" captures the combative spirit of the affair. Ha! Already I'm descending into the negative. Actually, regarding a couple of acceptances this year, I made valuable contacts with two perceptive poet/editors whose constructive suggestions lead to, in one case, a couple of improvements of poems accepted for publication, and in the other, reassurance on a poem I thought I should change that it was just fine as was. So there's reason for hope: maybe maybe the process could be called a search and rescue operation... for them and for me...

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

"I am presenting these 5 poems to you...".

I'm the same way and doing the same thing -- finding my manila envelopes.

I did have a word for that, maybe I'll remember in the morning. Introduce? no, something to do with seduction. I figured there was a problem with the word as well, I didn't like it.

Same with deadlines. I decided from now on all deadlines were to be referred to as "lifelines" -- lifelines to invitations. Yes! That may have been it: "I invite you to consider the following poems for publication."

~SJ Alto, Jr.
(word verification just gave me a street name)

Brian Campbell said...

Lorna: I like that, "lifelines". Every line we write is a life line. + I'll remember (and use) that "invitation" line too: it makes you into a host, and the editor a guest, a reversal of assumed roles if there ever was one. Beautiful! Thanks!

A. D. said...

Well, I think "submission" does imply a submissive aspect by definition—it is in fact turning over your work for an external judgment over which you have no control.

Relatedly, the term "emission" might define be the component of "submission" that just revolves around the sending out and less upon the external judgment or turning over of authority.

If it only it were possible to simply emit poems for publication.

A. D. said...

Lately I've been doing a lot of poetry remission.

A. D. said...

"Permission" might be the least surrendering term of the family.

Brian Campbell said...

Since I work mostly late at night, I suppose mine would be nocturnal emissions.

A. D. said...