I don't know if anyone noticed, but in the space of about twenty-four hours I put up, then took down, a poem here. I decided I really couldn't justify letting it loll around PMP preening itself, a joint in one hand, the remote in the other. Instead, I sent it out to look for work, get a job, make a buck or two, to try to get itself properly published. Too bad. It was quite happy here.
What IS properly published, anyway? It's such a gray area these days. Seems that every publisher, be it of a lit mag or an ezine or who-knows-what, has their own definition. Some say, sure, send us what you got, we don't care if it's been in the New Yorker, we'll take a look at it. Some say, oh dear me, no previously published work, and absolutely no simultaneous submissions, please. Simultaneous orgasms, yes. Simultaneous submissions, no. And, by the way, you can expect us to take up to 9 months to get back to you on this because we've all got day jobs and we're just putting out this terribly earnest magazine in our down time. We're volunteers. We do this for the glory, and there isn't even very much of that.
This no simultaneous subs thing may work out for the prolific writers among us, but for those of us who manage to squeeze out a poem with the regularity of an octagenarian on Tylenol 3's, it's a bit of an issue. I have one writer friend who says getting published is such a crapshoot you should send whatever you want whereever you want whenever you want, and in the unlikely event the stars line up for you and you get two or more (more! as if!) places wanting the same thing, just deal with it. Like, what are they going to do? Sue you?
And then there's the thorny question as to whether it counts as published if you put your writing up on a blog. Anyway, right after I put the aforementioned poem up, a friend referred me to an ezine that actually pays for poetry, and the poem in question sort of fits the market, so I decided to send it off into the ethers and not to take a chance on it being discovered here. But really, what are the odds? If someone knows their way around the Internet, it's still out there, but don't tell anybody, 'kay? Are there legions of unpaid ezine and litmag editors combing the archives, finding bits of fiction huddled under layers and layers of unrelated words, partial poems playing hide-and-seek around the detritus of discontinued websites? No cash for the cached?
(There is a seriously interesting site, by the way, where you can find discontinued websites. In 1999 I was one of the writers of a surreal sci-fi serial story that was online for a year. People subcribed to it (free, more volunteer work) and every day an episode of 700 words, give or take, would appear in their email. After the story was finished and it was time to renew the domain name and all that stuff, we decided not to. There was no reason to think anyone other than we would be interested in looking at the site ever again. I think it's kind of neat that it's all there still, albeit a bit harder to navigate than when it was "live". But I digress...)
Meanwhile, back to the great poetry publishing debacle, I did get some potentially fine news today. Last July I entered a couple of poems in a contest. One of them was short-listed (found that out in November), and in January they announced the winners and my poem wasn't among them. Which was okay with me, as I'd done a fairly serious revision on it in October when I was at a workshop. Today, I got an email from the coordinator of the contest saying that the poetry editor of The Minnesota Review has expressed interest in publishing some of the poems in a forthcoming issue. All the short-listed poems have been sent to the editor and mine is among the ones he's interested in! I just love it when someone asks me for a poem. So much easier than going through the whole ugly submission process. Even the word—submission—makes me feel just a little bit dirty!