Marinus gazes at the easy-to-swallow pill.
My evoked heart in my evoked body beats a little faster.
I look back. Jonah puts a glass of Evian water by the dish.
“Thank you.” Still bleary, Marinus picks up the pill.
I look away. Swallow it, I think. Swallow it whole.
“No worries,” says Jonah, unworriedly, as if our metalives aren’t dependent on this fickle woman doing as he bids her.
–David Mitchell, Slade House
Just wrapped up my own brief run in the Women Who Submit submission blitz. The idea is to get up your courage and submit to high-quality journals, which not nearly enough women get published in or even try to get published in. I only managed 7 before I wore out. Add in the one from last night I sent after midnight and before I even remembered this was happening, and I’ve contributed a grand total of 8 submissions to the overall pile. Not quite as good as I used to do, but all I really have time for now.
Mind you, when I was doing this 20 years ago via snail mail, I had all kinds of submission strategies: which journals got the first batch, which had sent personal notes, which I sent to as a hail-Mary pass just on the off-off-off-off-chance they’d be interested, etc. it was also a more labor-intensive endeavor, what with trips to Staples for photocopies, piles of copies that needed to be paper clipped, label printing, making SASEs, filling out 9 x 12 envelopes, dividing everything up in piles to be collated, and hauling it all to the post office to mail. For you young’uns who never had the pleasure of participating in this dance, consider yourselves lucky, because the whole process was a serious pain in the ass.
Then again, there are procedures nowadays that make e-submitting its own kind of hell. Formats! Individual submission managers! And fees, fees, fees! It’s true that these fees are often nominal (and that’s what journals like to call them–“nominal”). It’s also true that you’d pay at least as much, if not more, if you mailed in your work, once you added up the postage, office supplies, and copying/printing costs. Still, those $2 and $3 and $4 charges add up, and the people who get shafted by them most are the marginalized writers who can’t afford to spend $30 every other week to get their work out there. It’s quite a sucky system, and I don’t know what to do about it. Not sure that I even realized how sucky it was until I was asked to pony up my credit card over and over again this afternoon.
On the plus side, I also noticed myself wishing I could get all this submission bullshit over with and get back to writing. That, I feel, is a sign of maturity, at least in me. Twenty years ago, I used to read my Writers’ Market like a kid bingeing on sugar. Markets! Journals! Fame and literary greatness! Oh yeah!!!!!!! Suffice it to say, I didn’t approach this blitz in quite the same way. If past experience is any indication, it’ll be a miracle if I get one poem in one publication this time around. I’d be surprised if I got even one rejection with love (that’s a response from a human being on a rejection slip) from this batch of journals. But whatever. You do what you can do, and there are more venues out there now than there ever were pre-Internet. I’d rather have my work published where I’m welcome than try to crash the gates of the elite lit-mag institutions. Gate crashing is good to try every once in a while, but in my mind the real game of submissions is about finding your readers.
Wow, Nabokov really knew how to create the most atrocious characters simply by letting them speak in his fiction. This quote comes from Pale Fire. Note that the gender of the “young creature” is most likely male. The fact that it’s hard to figure out the victim’s gender suggests that such details are less important to rape culture than whether victims are some combination of young, vulnerable, and/or forgettable.
I now felt a new, pitiful tenderness toward the poem as one has for a fickle young creature who has been stolen and brutally enjoyed by a black giant but now again is safe in our hall and park, whistling with the stableboys, swimming with the tame seal.