Them Old Submission Blues: On Blogging, Writing Communities and Keeping Spirits Up

Them Old Submission Blues: On Blogging, Writing Communities and Keeping Spirits Up

bgdeskDear Black Gate Readers,

Something really cool just happened over on LiveJournal.

Since I’m sort of still grinning about it, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about the importance of finding or creating a community of friends and artists who — even if they can’t do anything about your stack o’ rejections, those self-imposed deadlines you keep failing to make, or the number of times your head thumps a desk (in my case, the wall. I don’t know why, but I just find walls more… thumpable… somehow) — are there for you, in whatever way they can be. Even across the miles. Even across state lines! Or oceans!

This is a great age for long-distance friendships, isn’t it? I love it.

Writing is lonesome. And, you know what? THAT’S WHY IT’S APPEALING! You’re one on one with yourself, dueling with your demons, exploring your dreamscapes, loaded to the max with your Tools of Toil: laptop, fountain pen, coffee mug (in my case, tea cup, ’cause coffee? GROSS!), notebooks, dictionary (or, and nothing to disturb you except maybe the dishes, the laundry, the kids (well, NOT in my case, but I know plenty of writers who are parents), the bills, and everything else we have to deal with.

That great escape into lonesomeness is one of the best things about writing.

But sometimes you get discouraged, maybe. And maybe that’s when the lonesomeness is not so great anymore.

So you go to your community. Maybe you post about it on your blog. Anything to make the burden lighter.

And then, in the midst of your writer pals’ commiserations, something like this might happen…

This is dedicated to all you writerly types out there, slogging though the Bogs of Eternal Rejection. We love you guys. We ARE you guys.

(Originally posted in the comments of the aforementioned LiveJournal link. LiveJournal is so great, people. I started mine in Fall of 2007 at Amal El-Mohtar’s instigation and it’s been a wild ride.)


by Erik Amundsen, Francesca Forrest and C.S.E. Cooney

Me! "csecooney" on LiveJournal, 'cause unlike Erik and Francesca, I don't have a cool LJ handle
Me! "csecooney" on LiveJournal, 'cause unlike Erik and Francesca, I don't have a cool LJ handle


You send it off to Venus
You send it off to Mars
They pay for poems with peanuts
And your books with candy bars
You got them
Old submission blues

(And that’s if they pay at all
Yeah, those old submission blues)


You fine-tune it with a tweaking
You nip and tuck and tighten
You take the spanner to it
And you say, now this is writin’

You lube it up and lob it out
But homeward it comes flyin’
It’s the old submission blues, my friend
That’s what you get for tryin’


It starts with inspiration
Divine or otherwise
Your fingers on the keyboard
And your mind walkin’ the skies

You type into the midnight
Forgetting sleep or feed
You type until you’re dizzy
And your fingers start to bleed

Stuff it in manilla
Slap it with a stamp
Wait six weeks with knocking knees
And cry your pillow damp
You’ve got those old submission blues…

What are we, luddites?
Email that *&%$ out, man
Those old submission blues…

Erik Amundsen, AKA "cucumberseed" on LiveJournal


You write your head meats ragged
You know you didn’t fake it
Just to holler at old Duotrope
“Now who the *&%$’ll take it?”

Bet you it’s a Token Payment market.
Doutrope calls them TP.
Those old submission blues…


Now we need a gee-tar, a harmonica, whiskey and cigars.


I hope we’re not planning to pay for those through writing proceeds.


No. We can start a kickstarter campaign.

“Writers Seeking To Make Their Fortune As Blues Singers.” AKA “WHAT ARE THE ODDS?”


Couldn’t possibly be worse.


You been waiting for an answer
You been chewing your nails raw
Till you check the nonresponse rate
And see it’s ten percent
And then you’re really fuming
And you feel you have to vent
You got them old submission blues


You get that devil’s message back,
Form rejection nothing fancy,
Midnight finds you at the crossroads
With that old rejectomancy

Francesca Forrest, AKA "asakiyume" on LiveJournal
Francesca Forrest, AKA "asakiyume" on LiveJournal


Did they say they hate first person
Is it retellings they mistrust
How come I send ’em stainless steel
And they tell me it’s all rust?
Gonna break my soul on this one
Gonna have to go for bust–
Or else just sing my heart out
With the old rejection blues

“Hey, this form letter seems slightly less dismissive than the one I recall getting last time I submitted–DOES THAT MEAN THEY’RE ENCOURAGING ME??”

“No. dude. it means they edited their form letter.”

“Shut up.”


You know this means Francesca and I are going to have to learn to sing before Readercon…


You know this means Francesca is going to have to animate a clay monster to go sing in her place….

Or we could just hire real blues magicians musicians and dress them up TO LOOK LIKE US!!!


You stack them bricks together
You build it high and tall,
You double check each letter
Then you wonder if you read those damned guidelines at all

(Cause there’s two or three that sink your story that you swear they put in after you checked it the first time…)

cthulhu_risingAnd if you win that lottery
They’ll give you your thin dime,
But lord they haven’t changed their rates
Since back in Lovecraft’s time!


Yad-Thaddag, how we beg you
Ulthar and Vorvadoss
We’ll burn every rejection
To wake the Elder Gods

Just as we make a pro-sale
And start to feel secure
Submission blues start lookin’ good
When Cthulhu starts to stir

Come back, you old submission blues
Go to sleep, Cthulhu!
We want our old submission blues…

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John ONeill

Bravo, CSE, Erik and Francesca! You make round-robin poeming look easy, and that’s no east feat.

Mind you, any poem that ends by invoking Cthulhu gets a pass in my book.

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