Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Put the Stamps on the Envelopes

Persistence must be in the nature of the writer. I like to joke that I’m the most stubborn person I know. (My husband doesn’t always see the humor in that statement.) Whether it’s keeping at the writing or keeping at the marketing, the main point is to KEEP GOING.

Here’s an interesting interview with poet Sandra Beasley, who notes the same need for relentlessness with regard to submissions and offers this useful advice:

You've had fellowships to Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Jenny McKean Moore Workshop, the Indiana University Writers' Conference, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. First, what's your secret to success? Second, how have these fellowships benefited you and your work?

“A lot of the opportunities I have had come from just putting stamps on envelopes and getting the darn applications out there. Relentlessly, and with cavalier disregard of the (many, many) rejections that will come your way (or at least, they come my way). You have to make the system as assembly line as possible—go ahead and prepare a generic bio note, c.v., cover letter, project description—though, of course, tailor to the individual application before you send.

“Whenever I get the slightest inclination to actually fill out an application (or for that matter, send out a journal submission), I drop whatever else I'm doing and honor the impulse. Even if I'm at work. Even if I'm on deadline. You always have to prioritize the poetry, because no one will do it for you. …”

As you may recall, Sandra wrote this summary of her time as a fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

And meet Sandra for yourself at one of her upcoming readings:

Monday, September 15 - Reading with Susan Settlemyre Williams at Cafe Muse. 7:30 PM; Friendship Heights Village Center at 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD.

Wednesday, October 1 - Reading with Barbara Goldberg as part of the Visiting Writer Series at American University. 8 PM; Board Room (6th Fl.), Butler Pavilion, American University in Washington, DC.

You can see more details about these readings at Sandra's web site.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.