Attempts to bark up the right tree

I’m having trouble settling in to write today. Or to work. Or to focus on just about anything. At the moment this has a lot to do with the fact that outside our house someone’s truck’s alarm is malfunctioning. It keeps going off, every five minutes or so, and when the truck’s owner tries to turn off the alarm, it resists. Now he and another guy are out there in the rain, under the hood of the truck, trying to figure out what’s wrong. I’m glad, at least, that the truck’s owner is here … otherwise the alarm would sound — beep beep beep beep beep beep — all day long, instead of just every 10 minutes or so, as it has done for the past hour.

I’ve already left the house to try working in a cafe, but that didn’t help my concentration. As soon as I sat down I felt overwhelmingly sleepy, the result of staying up too late last night, and the gloomy weather. And I needed information from the Internet that I couldn’t access (yet another of my favorite cafés has done away with the free wireless!). And so I left and went to the bookstore. It is both luxurious and problematic that freelance life is so fluid. It is easy to make time for everything other than what you should be doing.

My time in the bookstore was, in fact, not completely for leisure. I was looking for magazines to which I might be able to submit a certain essay. It’s the second bookstore I’ve visited in two days with this goal in mind. Today, I found a magazine that is, I think, an ideal destination for my piece, and was so excited on the walk home as I thought about it. But a quick scan of the magazine’s web site made me realize that the issue I bought is over a year old, and that the publication is now two issues behind. Which isn’t a promising thing to learn about a publication you have set your sights on. It’s not even clear if the magazine is still going to publish. I’m disappointed, and not just about my essay. It’s the first lit magazine I’ve read in a while that I truly enjoyed. When I got it home I read a good bit of it, straight through, and wished there was more.

I’ve been thinking a lot about submitting this past week. Thinking about what pieces of writing I might submit where, yes, but also what type of writing I do. I have been thinking that I have been submitting the wrong things to the wrong publications. Or, rather, that I am submitting to all the right publications, it’s just that I am submitting all the wrong things, pieces of writing that don’t fit in with those publications’ usual style and content. It turns out that what I think I write is quite different from what I actually write. It’s an important revelation, and it’s why I have been on the hunt for publications I might not have been aware of. There are so many publications out there, and finding a good match is a lot of work. But it’s work with great potential for reward, or at the very least, a good read on a rainy, gray afternoon.

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