Faye Rapoport DesPres

Juggling Act

It’s been quite a juggling act lately; I’ve been maintaining my freelance business writing schedule with several companies, submitting a new essay to a number of literary journals, and teaching Expository Writing at Framingham State University. There are some mornings when I wake up and am not sure where I am, what day it is, or which task has to come first. Maintaining a regular creative writing schedule has been more challenging than ever, but I’m doing the best I can. Instead of waking up early and writing every day, which I was doing for most of the summer, I’m writing on the days when my schedule eases up, and allowing ideas to percolate in my mind in the meantime.

Someone mentioned recently that submitting creative work can be as time consuming as the actual writing. There’s some truth to that. It’s no easy task to research literary journals and magazines, and to determine which publications or editors might be most interested in the type of work you do. Once you’ve made some decisions about where to submit a piece, you still have to read submission directions carefully, format your work according to each publication’s preferences, produce a cover letter (in most cases) and send the work out either by old-fashioned “snail mail” or through an online submission manager. And it doesn’t stop there — it’s important to keep track of where each piece has gone and of the responses you get, and to inform journals that are still considering a manuscript immediately if it is accepted by someone else before they get back to you. I’ve organized various systems to handle all of this.

Then of course there are those evenings of staring out the window with a glass of wine (or a stiff drink) in your hand on the days you receive the inevitable rejections.

The whole thing requires a lot of time and organization (and a very thick skin), and when you add all of that to your regular job and creative writing time, it can be daunting. Still, I think it’s important, once you’re really satisfied with an essay, a poem, or a short story, to send out your work. If you’ve got something great that other people should read, it’s worth the time and effort to get it into their hands. And if your work isn’t quite as ready as you thought, those rejections can motivate you to take another look, revise, find a reader who will offer suggestions, and continue the march toward getting better.

You have to be pretty determined, and more than a little stubborn, to stay in this game. In my case, I’ve discovered stubbornness in myself that I never knew existed.

If you’re interested in how I organize my submission process, feel free to send me a note. I’ll be happy to share what I can, and I look forward to seeing your work in print.