Thursday Thoughts: To Submit, or Not.

13 Jan

10:09 am, Thursday, 13 January, 2011 – Atlanta

Before we get to a discussion about submitting, I used part of yesterday to think about this blog and how it needs to evolve. Looking over my general plan for the year [you know teachers – we do lesson plans], I figure I will be out of primary material in about six months. I know I can recycle [a reminder from my daughter that variations can be endless] but I do want to slow down my full tilting down the road.

I am restructuring so that Monday will be off, on the theory most people are clearing the decks after the weekend; Tuesday will continue to be a creative exercise; Wednesday will be off; Thursday will be where the mantras and any other discussion of aspects of poetry will happen; and Friday will continue to be a roundup of the week’s prompts. I may use Mondays and Wednesdays to post poems for prompts from other sites, but it won’t be regular. If there is something I want to share, I will always let you know on a regular day.

Over the past few months as I brought myself up to speed on the poetry scene in the United States, I realised that writers fall into roughly three categories. There are those who write and do not post or submit. My son and daughter are both better poets than I will ever be, yet my son has never had any interest in publishing what he writes and my daughter doesn’t have the time to write, as she once did. I suspect there are many writers who fall under this category

The second category is writers who post but don’t submit, whether because they feel more comfortable with the thought of sharing rather than going through the submission process, or they are not interested in submitting but still want their writing out there. With the onset of computers, I suspect some writers shifted from the first to the second category.

The third category of writers are the ones who want publication, whether in print or online. They spend much of their time crafting, revising, and honing. They also spend much of their time looking for places to submit. This category falls into splinter groups. One group does not post poems because they might be able to submit the poems for publication if they find a home for them. Another group tentatively [this would be my group] posts some poems, but, in general, holds onto poems that they want to see published. Yet another group wants their poems out there, no matter by what means, so they post, they self-publish and they sometimes submit. And, if they are established writers they have the luxury of doing whatever they want and they have earned that luxury.

There is no right or wrong. It’s what works for each individual and her/his writing.

This post has a part 2, which I will continue next Thursday, when I will talk about the resources for publishing. I will see you tomorrow for the roundup.


Posted by on 13/01/2011 in poetry, writing


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10 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: To Submit, or Not.

  1. 1sojournal

    13/01/2011 at 3:54 pm

    The essay on submitting was very timely for me. I used to publish, but that was up until about ten years ago. It became time consuming and also frustrating. I have been blogging for three years and happy to just be able to share what I wrote. However, in the past month, I have submitted three things online and am a bit surprised at this current about face. The incentives were right, and perhaps the time as well. At some point, I have been inside of each of the groups you describe. Have no idea exactly where I am at the moment, but sort of looking forward to finding out.

    Thanks for the essay, it’s good to know that I’ve been around, lol, but it did clarify enough for me to start posing questions,


    • margo roby

      13/01/2011 at 4:03 pm

      Questions are good. Even if they lead to more questions and no answers, that’s good. I have the luxury, now of having the time to play the submissions game. I submitted for several years, but [also ten years ago], I had to choose where I could devote my energy and I chose my teaching. Now I am retired, deliberately so I can focus on my poetry. We’ll see what happens. It is not quite so cut and dried anymore.

      • 1sojournal

        13/01/2011 at 6:23 pm

        I stopped trying to submit for the same exact reason, I wanted to focus on teaching. And I will be curious to see what you have to say about all of it.

        Thanks again,


  2. Linda H.

    13/01/2011 at 4:46 pm

    Wow. If your children write better poetry than you, they must write awesome stuff.

    • margo roby

      13/01/2011 at 5:03 pm

      😀 Thank you. They are very good. I am jealous of how easily they come to it too, where I agonize [pleasurably but still not easily] through a poem.

  3. James

    16/01/2011 at 8:22 am

    This is something I go round and round with. I’ve also been in several categories. Lately, I’ve been developing a philosophy of submitting. Anymore, I am unlikely to submit to a journal/zine/site that does not a) take electronic submissions, b) publish online or at least have some kind of useful web presence, c) take simultaneous submissions, and d) allow submissions that have previously been posted on a personal site. I generally prefer to publish on my site. I enjoy the immediacy and of it (even if the poem has been in revision for months or years) and I like the fact that people read my stuff and I (sometimes) get feedback. Occasionally, I’ve had to ask myself if my best stuff should appear first on my site where my readers can enjoy it or is it best to go elsewhere. Perhaps a balance is best and that’s why I do submit, but I focus submissions toward venues whose submission policies align with my idea of how submissions should be done.

    I look forward to reading Part 2.

    • margo roby

      16/01/2011 at 8:25 am

      James – may I quote some of your reply? You sound like you are in the position I am coming around to and I like the way you have expressed it?

      • James

        17/01/2011 at 3:39 pm

        Quote away!

  4. margo roby

    17/01/2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you, James!


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