Spastic about submitting

Everyone seems to be in the mood to send out submissions to lit mags these days. I guess it’s the semester break, or time off around the holidays. I myself am on a mission to send out two of my thesis chapters as a stand-alone essays before I get bogged down in some new job. My goal this week is to send my work out to a list I made of nine mags.

For some reason, I always underestimate the time the submitting process takes.

First, there’s the researching of the appropriate lit mags and their deadlines, contests, and word count limits. In the past year or so, I’ve gotten this to be a little more manageable by keeping a binder, organized by deadline. I print out the sumbission guidelines for mags that seem to be a good fit, usually after I see a call for submissions in a magazine or elsewhere. The idea was that in December, for example, I could just turn to the part of the binder that contained December deadlines, and it wouldn’t take me so long to just print out essays and send to those mags. And the submission process would be broken into more manageable monthly chunks. (Theoretically, anyway.)

After I figure out where I will send my essays, it usually hits me that I have some editing and sculpting to do on said essays. This is where I get bogged down. Either I need to meet a word count, and I’m not meeting it, or I need to turn a chapter of a book into a stand-alone piece. Or both at once. These tasks are always harder than they seem.

Then, there are the cover letters. And the SASEs. And digging up the right envelopes and return postage, etc. etc. What I assume will take a few hours usually ends up taking a full day or more. I wonder, sometimes if I am being overly spastic and anal about the way I pull my submissions together. But then I think to when I worked at a lit mag, and I remember how a sloppily put-together manuscript/cover letter didn’t have a chance. Am I the only one with a freakishly organized binder? What’s your process?


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