Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spamming the A button: the end of subtlety with submissions

I don't know why I've been overthinking how I submit stories lo these past four years. I try very hard to find the appropriate venue for each story. This doesn't mean actually--as every journal suggests--purchasing and reading a few sample copies of each magazine before submitting. That would be insane, and far beyond my budget or the budget of nearly every writer. But I do read at least some free samples, if available, and I try to gauge whether the journal's aesthetic matches mine. At most, I've only been submitting to maybe half a dozen journals at a time.

That ends now. Back when my son and I still played video games together (which was back when consoles still routinely made games that had split-screen as an option), he used to get really annoyed with the lack of subtlety I showed when playing. Rather than approach situations with finesse or a sense of style, I'd just whack at the enemy with straightforward attacks. "Spamming the A button," in his terminology.

The thing is, I actually got decent results from this approach. It's never pretty, but bit by bit, it does tend to level up a character until I can use it to get past the tough levels. I might have trouble with some bosses, because those usually have some trick to them beyond AAAAAAAAA. But we ended up beating most of the games we played together, and I wasn't always the weak link.

This is the approach I'm taking from here on out with submitting stories. I'm just sending out a lot. I might end up giving away opportunities in this manner, by publishing in a smaller journal when I might have landed a top-notch one, but I think getting in the big ones is so hard to figure out, I'm just not counting on that. I'll still submit to them, but I'm not going to do that thing where I submit to them first and then wait months to get rejections before I send to others. I'm just sending out lots and lots of submissions and hoping that it all works itself out.

There's only so much time I can give to writing. I need to spend as much of it as possible writing the best stories I can. Every extra second I spend futzing with the best way to handle submissions is taking time away from the thing I need to be working on the most. And it's just not useful time spent: who the fuck knows the right way to handle submissions? Who knows who is going to like what? Six months as a fiction editor has made it clear I don't even know what I'm going to vote for or why sometimes.

I'll still follow my resolution to support every journal that publishes me in some way, even if it's just to subscribe for a year after publication. I'll give them something. There's no reason to feel guilty that I'm drive-by submitting, any more than someone should feel like they're cheating on an eventual girlfriend by posting an online dating profile to thousands of people before meeting the one.

So, from here on out, head down, dwarf mace out, AAAAAAA. If that means I only get published in South Paducah Vignettes from here on out, so be it, and the folks of South Paducah shall have my gratitude.

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