Last week I got two more "returns" from revues to which I had circulated work -- check here for a nomenclature I came up with to replace those stinging, tail-between-the-legs terms, submission and rejection -- and found I now have practically nothing out there: one set of poems sent to one tardy review, and a couple of contests.
Time, this Easter weekend, to resurrect myself -- at least as far as poem circulation is concerned.
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours organizing my return slips and letters into alpha-order in a binder for easy reference, with acceptances under a separate category. I've found Excell spreadsheets too time-consuming, and am using this simple system: simply mentioning names of the poems sent in the cover letter, printing out an extra copy for myself and sticking it in a binder. That way I have all the information about names of editors, poems sent, etc. Is there a simpler system, a better spreadsheet that works for you?
My record over the last two years or so: 45 returns, 10 acceptances (14 poems in total), a finalist for a major contest. On the return slips, I have 9 positive handwritten comments.
Not too discouraging, but I'm very slow at this stuff. My batting average may be quite good (.182, by my calculations, apparently not bad in the Literary League), but I just don't get to bat enough. I lag, procrastinate, spend a long time mulling on what to send where, lose focus, make all kinds of absurd mistakes. It's a task for which I have to make special efforts to psych myself up. For years, I sent out nothing -- demoralized by the process, the editors, the reviews, everything. But if, like most writers, I feel underpublished and underappreciated, I have only myself to blame.
Kelly Russell Agodon wrote a recent post about her over-thinking of submissions. I like the advice a friend of hers gave: send three you think the review will love, and one you think they'll hate. Chances are they'll take the latter. Kelly, by the way, just won a prize.