A fair while ago now, Robin and I talked about the VIDA Count. I guess pretty much everyone did. We wanted to ask a bunch of great writers who also happen to be ladies about their publishing experience and basically just open up a space to talk about gender and publishing, or call bullshit on it, or spout conspiracy theories.
This will be ongoing. This has to be ongoing.
Next up is Carrie Murphy.
She is the author of a full-length collection of poems, Pretty Tilt (Keyhole Press, 2012) and a chapbook, Meet the Lavenders (Birds of Lace, 2011). Visit her online at carrie-murphy.com
I pretty much always consider my writing in terms of gender. Not only do I frequently write about the experience of being female, but I’m a very staunch feminist, and for me, there’s no way to seperate my feminism from my identity as a writer and poet.
In terms of submissions, though, I’m honestly kind of lazy. I’ll work on poems for awhile and then when I think they’re fit for editorial eyes, I’ll send them out. This usually happens every few months, and I let the submissions languish. I don’t send out more until I get responses from the last batch. Usually I send to journals that I already like and respect, or that I think have an aesthetic that fits mine (or that I think might dig my aesthetic). That’s pretty standard, right? I will say I generally don’t think about the gender breakdown of the previous publications of the journal or mag. I don’t have a real system or way of keeping track or anything, other than my Submittable account.
Actually, I just got invited to a group on Facebook (started by writer Laura E. Davis) where the idea is to “submission bomb” journals in order to up the visibility (and publication chances) of women and other less-represented writers in submission queues. The group is only “bombing” publications that have agreed to it, and the whole idea seems like it’s coming from a positive standpoint. Editors are weighing in, writers are giving submission tips, people seem really excited and engaged in talking about publication disparity, what this all means and how we, as writers, can change it. Am I going to “bomb,” though? I don’t think so.
Not because I don’t think it’s a valid idea. It’s one idea, one means of surviving in and changing this crazy climate we women writers are dealing with. The VIDA numbers are mind-boggling. My stomach drops every time I revisit them. I don’t think there’s one solution or one answer; sending lots of submissions to a particular journal is one method, but there should be many methods, many conversations, many solutions. For me, it feels most productive and most honest to send my work to journals that I already read and respect, so I can tailor the specific poems I’m sending to a specific journal. Those journals may already have a good track record for publishing women and writers of color, or they may not. I’m most concerned about finding the best venue for my own poems, I guess. (This is not to impugn the mission of the submission bombers. I’m all for whatever action makes the most sense for you. And I’m certainly for taking action, period, especially as so much of the conversation around the VIDA numbers seems to be just that: only conversation.) Submitting more can be part of the solution, and supporting fellow writers can be part of it, and writing and talking and raging about it can be part of it. We can all be part of the storm. We all need to be part of the storm.
Have some thoughts? Comment and let us know.
Also check out what these ladies had to say: