Forcing myself to submit my poems for publication

Oh, the irony…

I accept submissions of poems from other writers at The Skeptic’s Kaddish, but, ironically, I have never submitted any of my own poems for publication. True, one of my poems was published in Masticadores India, but that was only because Terveen Gill, the editor, was kind enough to extend an invitation to me to send her a piece of mine.

Nearly three months ago, I concluded that I should submit some of my poetry to various poetry magazines, but I have yet to do so. Why?

*sigh*

1. I’m afraid of rejection

If I’m attempting to be honest, this is something that I should admit up front.

Publishing poetry on my own blog is risk-free, and I’m guaranteed to receive positive feedback from other poets on WordPress because of the community that we have here. I mean – take a look at the comments section of any poetry blog on WordPress… They’re all pretty much lovefests, right? And – even if somebody attempts to post a critical comment (which almost never happens), it will almost certainly be deleted or marked as spam by the blogger.

On the other hand, if I submit my poems to various publications, they can be, and some will be, rejected. Of course, I know full well that this comes with the territory, but that’s an awful feeling for somebody who invests so much of himself in his craft.

2. The “Not previously published” thing

In addition to taking pride in my writing, I also take pride in The Skeptic’s Kaddish itself, which includes a personal commitment to produce and publish quality content here on a regular basis. The thing is – it takes me a fair amount of time to write poems that I feel proud of… And I don’t want to decrease my rate of publishing blog posts.

Essentially, producing poems for publication would require additional hours beyond the time that I currently invest in writing, and that’s on top of work, family life, and sleep.

Also, I’m very much a “sharer” by nature – it’s very hard for me to produce a piece of creative writing that I’m proud of and not publish it. This is the main reason that I blog instead of journaling privately. I love the interactions that my writings generate.

It’s frustrating for me that producing poems for other publications would require me to keep them private until they’re published, and that’s under the assumption that they’re accepted for publication at all. It’s not as though one receives an immediate response to his submissions – these processes can take weeks and even months.

3. Ceding control of my works

There’s something profoundly uncomfortable for me about the notion of my poems being out of my hands. On this blog, where I post all of my creative writing, I can always go back and tweak any of my pieces on the spur of the moment.

In fact, quite often, after publishing a poem, I’ll reread it and feel newly dissatisfied with some part of it, which leads me to edit it after it’s gone “live”. To be full transparent, some of my poems have been edited multiple times after I first posted them… And, sometimes, I end up reversing the changes I’ve made in a fit of further dissatisfaction.

Look, I know that this perfectionism of mine is not healthy for me – it also gets in my way in other aspects of my life… But this is something that nags at me – I can very well imagine myself submitting a poem for inclusion in a publication and then wanting to edit it again afterwards… And what if it gets published, but I’m no longer pleased with it?

4. Fear of the unknown

I’ve never submitted any writings for publication, and I’m not at all an adventurous spirit. This is scary for me.

5. Not my strength

My strength is in writing; not networking; not figuring out which publications would be most appropriate for me to write for; not… well, not anything related to marketing myself or my craft.

In my fantasies, I somehow get magically discovered by a publisher who loves my writing, and I don’t have to deal with any of this business, other than producing the content.


Growing as a writer

Despite all of the above, I really should submit some poetry to various magazines…

At the end of the day, a successful writer is one whose works get read; and limiting myself to only publishing here at The Skeptic’s Kaddish is keeping me back. I know this well, but it doesn’t make this scary process any easier for me.

*sigh*

83 thoughts on “Forcing myself to submit my poems for publication”

  1. Love your dilemma which many of us experience….. My two cents- “Dance like no one is watching, and if they do–its at their risk” Im doing it and submitting to challenges, contests and feeling good about it. this is for me and me and I alone 🙂 Go for it -anyone who wants to write..everyone can write, most can be writers!!!

  2. Yes, you should! You are an excellent writer, David! Also, there are many publications that accept previously published posts, just check their submission requirements first. And you never lose your rights to the pieces they pick up. Do it!

  3. Looking at all the comments, I can see your thoughts resonate with so many. I think the tricky part is choosing where to direct any submission. Why not send out a small number, maybe just one or two, and see what happens, how you feel about the process, etc. You may find that waiting for a response isn’t as frustrating as you fear – with your amazing output you may even forget about the poems you have sent for submission (it has happened to me and then I’ve been pleasantly surprised to be told I’ve been successful). Good luck with whatever you decide to do. 🍀💙

  4. Wow, your fifth point especially resonated with me. I’ve always been disheartened by the idea of needing to market, search for agents, and wait after submissions; I’ve only ever wanted to write. There’s comfort in this independence, but as you said, it limits potential.
    I wish you all the best in your venture.

  5. Man, I feel just like you do! To be honest, I have always wanted to be published, but yeah, what if people don’t like my poems? What if they mock me? What if I think that the work submitted by me is unsatisfactory, but can’t take it back or edit it?
    And I haven’t been published in many places, except, perhaps, the poetry bar and your site, and at dverse and duo disseminators… I feel I should get a move on and have more of my works published, but that’s entirely our choice, isn’t it? 😉

    1. I’m not exactly worried about being mocked… It’s more about pouring myself into poems that end up not being accepted and not being able to even post them on my blog while I wait for months to find out that they’ve been rejected…

      But, yes, as you say, Veera – it’s entirely our choice.


      David

  6. I understand your qualms about submitting elsewhere. It does mean a lot, a lot, a lot of rejection. That is why I have stopped doing it for the moment at least. But there are places that are kinder to poets who haven’t been published before. Who judge a poem on its own merits and don’t pay so much attention to a poet’s bio or whether they are “on trend” enough. With that in mind, if you feel like taking a leap, perhaps you could consider Free Verse Revolution, who are also here on WordPress. Kristiana is a very kind and generous editor. https://freeverserevolution.com/

    1. 🙂 Constance 🙂

      perhaps you could consider Free Verse Revolution,

      That’s actually one of the places I was considering because I’ve seen other poets on WP getting published there, and it seems like a really nice publication 🙂

      Have you been published there?


      David

  7. You have to believe in yourself… lot’s of people share this feeling of doubt.
    So just try it out, but don’t expect that everyone will like your work, but a lot of people will do !

  8. Dear David,see how many you have rooting for you,as we say in Australia. You will never know until you try. You have our support. Both Jessica and I have been Published,not because we submitted but because we were asked for educated opinions on specific issues which then appeared in Magazines,books and Newspapers. We have been in 2 films for someone else’s Phds. BUT THIS IS NOTHING ALONGSIDE OF SUBMITTING,UNASKED,A WORK OF ART. I am co-writer for an English blogger,Religion and Faith, and feel honoured enough to be read

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