Submissions. My one writing imperative is: when the work is ready, send it out. AKA—submit.
Yesterday, I spent a big chunk of time prepping a submission to a literary journal. What I thought I had ready to go were four proems—the form formerly known as the prose poem. All four proems had been through the re-wringer: they had been rewritten, revised, reworked, and refined. They were definitely ready. But first, I had to write my cover letter and a brief bio.
The cover letter was relatively easy, but the brief bio was not to be dashed off. There was a four-sentence limit to the bio, and the journal wanted certain particulars included. When the four sentences with particulars had been crafted and completed, I began the copy-paste process, transferring the work from my original file to the submission doc.
As I gave each proem its own page (as required by the journal), I read through it, to be sure nothing had gone amiss during the transfer. The first two passed the test, but the next two—as I read them aloud one last time—called out to be honed again. Not the whole piece, but in each, I saw the need for more clarity in certain phrasing and description. So, more spit and polish. Actually, there was no spit involved. A lot of polish. After all, Rule No. 3 of my top three writing rules is: Rewrite. Revise, revise, revise, until it sings and you know you’re done.
I set out to submit at noon. Five hours later, I hit “submit.”
Yes, dear, it was a long hard day at work. While it’s true that I long to be like Noël Coward, who reportedly wrote Blithe Spirit in six days, I take comfort in having some kinship with Oscar Wilde, who once told a friend: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it in again.”