Yesterday, I mailed off several copies of my book length poetry manuscript and one entry in a chapbook contest. There are days when I wonder if I'm crazy to keep spending money on this adventure. There are days when I wonder at what point the postage will cost more than the entry fee.
In this recent blog post, Kelli Russell Agodon traces the progress of her manuscript, the same manuscript which recently won the White Pine Poetry Book prize. She submitted it to 76 publishers before this current submitting season, where she submitted to 9 other presses in addition to the one which chose her manuscript.
She's a braver woman than I am. She also tells about the evolution of the manuscript. One of her commenters says that it takes about 5 years for a manuscript to find a publisher.
I've been sending mine out in its current form for about 5 years, give or take a year or two of bad hurricane seasons, which thoroughly disrupted my submission plans. There are times when I wonder if I've committed to a flawed manuscript. But then I look at other collections and take another honest look at mine, and I feel mine is every bit as good as some that are in print.
Of course, there are lots of good poetry manuscripts out there that haven't found a home. So, I submit and submit and submit again. Some people waste over $100 a month on cable televisions, and I spend my hard earned money supporting small presses and publishing adventures--and I don't spend $100 a month!
For those of you who need a story of tenacity paying off, read this story in today's The Washington Post of a story of a man who entered an art contest for 27 years, never winning, occasionally coming close enough to keep his hopes alive. Yes, he spent the last 27 years drawing and painting ducks. And this year, he won. It's a fascinating story.
I continue to put together manuscripts and research publishers and submit. It's a strange hobby, but no stranger than many hobbies. It keeps my brain alert, so I figure it's better than television watching, or other mindless activities.