My Trivial (and not so trivial) Pursuits of Summer

Summery

Though I was disappointed that summer classes weren’t available in my degree program, it’s still been a pretty great summer.  I still accomplished a lot, and used some of my time somewhat wisely.  The list below pretty much sums up the season for me (so far):

  1. Binge watched the entire series of “Medium” on Netflix (I’d missed the last season, so I started with it, and worked my way back).  It’s where I got the idea of including a little note in my child’s lunch (as soon as she’s old enough to read them).
  2. Participated in the Writer’s Digest “Poem-a-Day” challenge for the month of April.
  3. Made my first live television appearance on “The Daily Brew” with my friend, Mandy, who also participated in the challenge.
  4. Writing my third Harlequin novel (the first two haven’t been picked up yet) for the “So You Think You Can Write” contest.
  5. Mastered mouse-moving dexterity with my left hand (no more carpal tunnel in my dominant hand).
  6. Became a volunteer article writer for the Gulf Coast Kid’s House.
  7. Enrolled in a creative writing course at the local college.  I could only get into one class this semester (everything was either full, required a pre-req, or it wasn’t offered during the fall term).  I used this delay as an opportunity to take a class that excites me.
  8. Finally accepted that I will never like bananas (unless they’re in a dessert).  Same goes for sweet potatoes and avocados.
  9. Submitted my collection of children’s nursery rhymes, “Golden Stars and Silver Linings” to Wordsong Press.
  10. Learned how to have fun for fun’s sake.  Not everything has to be a learning opportunity for my two-year-old daughter.  Making memories and having fun is a big part of childhood.  I learned from an occupational therapist that a child’s job is to do just that:  Have fun.
  11. Became a quarter-finalist in the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize contest for my collection of medical poetry, “Complexities”.  (Final results are still pending.)  Whether or not I win, I will still have completed a large body of work in a relatively short amount of time.  I am determined that every piece of writing I’ve deemed good will eventually find a home.  Every rejection is an opportunity to make a piece better.

Submission for the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize

So I am working (feverishly–after all, isn’t “genius” 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration?) on finishing up a collection of “medical poetry” for the aforementioned contest (I found it through a scholarship website, but I don’t think you have to be a student; it’s not a lot of prize money, but the entry is free).  The submission had to fit a theme, and since I had the most poetry written about medical anomalies, I went with it.

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a “theme” person–I like to just “write whatever” (as evidenced in this blog), but this was a real challenge and I love challenges (writing ones, that is).

The collection must be at least 20 pages, so this, I believe, would cover it.

Complexities of the Mind and Body

Table of Contents

The Last Dance (Huntington’s disease)
Petals in the Wind (Capgras delusion)
The Moon is Blue (depression; lobotomies; electro-shock treatment)
Raining Bullets on the Fourth of July (PTSD)
Ace in the Hole (compulsive gambling)
Jeremy Johnson (autism)
The Memory Thief (Alzheimer’s)
The Hells of St. Mary (multiple personality disorder)
The Daily Mirror (body dysmorphia)
The Annexation of Angela (chimeras)
Her Fearless Symmetry (OCD)
The Color of Happy (synesthesia)
Seven Beautiful Days with Genevieve (bi-polar disorder; suicide)
Chasing Summer (seasonal affective disorder)
Waiting for Huntington (self-explanatory; I did a lot of research on this disease, and there was enough material for a book of poetry)

A publisher’s market, not a writer’s market

Writers Market

So I ordered the 2013 edition of “The Writer’s Market” on amazon.com, at a third of the price of this year’s.  I’d wanted to get the e-edition (since I’m always on my computer when I’m editing), but I’d heard it was hard to navigate, so I settled for the print edition.

I go through phases with my writing–for awhile, I was tailoring all my work for submission to Harlequin romance (working on my Great American novel all the while, whatever that means), then I got into personal essays/creative nonfiction, and now I’m on a poetry kick, mainly because it works my brain in a different way, and I can dash it off and submit it pretty fast.

I just finished editing my collection of children’s nursery rhymes, which include fractured fairy tales (blended with Biblical allegories), fractured nursery rhymes, and my original “Just-So” stories (in the spirit of Rudyard Kipling), to name a few.  I’ve even included a “Shaggy God” story (“Allison’s Mirror:  A Twisted Retelling”) that combines the story of “Alice in Wonderland” with a Sci-Fi (or Scientology) point-of-view explaining how Adam and Eve hooked up.

I have taken a hiatus from entering fee-based contests for awhile.  Though I never lived them, I miss the days when publishers paid to print your work, rather than writers having to pay publishers just to read it.  Some of them are a racket, but others, I believe, just don’t make anything off subscriptions (I know plenty of people who write poetry, but read it?).  That’s why magazines like “Ladies Home Journal” and “Real Simple” can offer free contests with a big prize attached.  “The Writer’s Digest” offers several contests, but you have to pay (and pay big) to win.  However, there is hope in getting published with them and not having to pay (but neither do you get paid):   http://www.writersdigest.com/submission-guidelines.  You can also submit to “The Huffington Post” here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScrz0kcSTcl6MrGJF-13l2MMSZJ3BBZtt6_znfxb4FwMLQiSQ/viewform, where you will get exposure, but again, no cash.  If you don’t mind writing for free for awhile (what is most blogging, after all?), then these will simply serve as publication credits to add to your “clip file”.

Though I realize it’s important to invest in ourselves (sometimes that means moneywise), and that when we buy a lottery ticket, it’s a gamble, I am still leery of shelling out too much money at one time for an entry/reading fee.  I’m going to exhaust all other options first, which is why I bought “The Writer’s Market”.

One exception I made was paying ten dollars to enter the Saturday Evening Post’s “Great American Short Story Contest”.  See:  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/12/06/more-good-news/.  Receiving an honorable mention (to me) in a magazine like that was like winning first place in a magazine no one has ever heard of.  The only disappointment was that my story was not in print, but rather in an online anthology.  (Print is just far more prestigious.)

That said, the absolute best, up-to-date source I’ve found for finding submission opportunities that don’t charge is http://writingcareer.com/.

Moreover, it can pay to be a college student, as there is a plethora of scholarships which require a written essay.  Scholarships are great because the pool of possible winners is much smaller (at least half of them require you to be a full-time student), so you have a better chance of winning.  Beware, however, as some are based on how many “votes” you get, but if you’re a social media butterfly, those might be the ones for you:

http://www.varsitytutors.com/college-scholarship
https://www.coursehero.com/scholarships/1000012/tier-3k-aug/
http://www.fastweb.com/
https://www.scholarships.com/
https://www.chegg.com/
https://www.cappex.com/
https://www.unigo.com/
http://myscholly.com/#scholly
(this costs $2.99, but it’s worth it)
https://scholarshipowl.com/my-account
(just get the list, but don’t pay; rather google the name of the scholarship)

So there are still a multitude of ways to make money at writing without breaking the bank.  Hope this helps!

Sarah Lea, a fellow undernourished blogger