I’ve been frustrated with myself because I’ve had the last year to focus on my writing and I’ve submitted nothing. I listened to friends and read articles and thought about the best way to approach writing – how much time to spend on it daily, what time was best to write, how to block off that writing time. Yet when doctors’ appointments or other things interfered with my writing, I let it go. I didn’t make up the time. Still, there were times when I’d be seized by an idea that was so compelling that I’d sit down and write out the words and then go back and do a first edit. Then I’d save it on my computer in either my Articles, Short Story, Book, or Poem folder.
The last two months have found me struggling physically to write because a Pitbull attack both broke and dislocated the middle finger of my left hand. I could not type. I also spent six days in the hospital in early March. That prevented much writing, although it did give me ideas to write about.
Yesterday as I sat reading my Poets & Writers magazine, I stumbled across the list of markets and contests they had in the back of their May-June 2016 issue. As I’d read the requirements for each submission, a poem or article, or story I had already written would pop into my mind. I’ve been going about this writing gig wrong.
I do have a Writers Market, but I use it to search for a market when I’m through with a manuscript. Until that final edit, I am not through. When I’d scan all the things I have written, I’d feel overwhelmed at the idea of choosing just one to search for a market for. I don’t know why that was so. It seemed that having so many already written was a bad thing. I needed to devote several hours a day to writing.
Actually I need to devote several hours a day to editing and submitting what I’ve already written. Just because I’d write pieces here and there through the years when the muse would strike doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable.
I just counted and I already have over a hundred articles written in one form or another. They need editing. They need publishers found to publish them. I’ve had a few things published. I know how to look for the right place to submit my work. That’s what I need to do now.
Now it makes sense. Now I can block off time in my day and use it to edit and submit work I have already written. If something stirs my muse and causes me to do more writing, I’ll save it in the appropriate folder. Perhaps it too will one day grace the pages of a magazine or book.
I’m not a failure as I feared I was when I had all this “free time” but did not spend it writing. I’ve worked on my book about the blindman, and while it’s much closer to publication, it is still not as finished as I want it to be. I can devote time to it and devote time to marketing, and that will fill my writing time.
Part of writing is submitting your work. I got led off the path to publication by well-meaning friends who said to set aside time to write every day and by my vision of writers who did in fact spend hours every day writing. It’s not the writing that needs doing. It’s what you do after you’ve written something that comes next for me.