AWP Note: Women Who Submit

13 Feb

The AWP Conference and a Maine blizzard scotches a proper Market Monday. Instead I’ll point you to a resource for building submissions energy and support.

womenwhosubmitlogoMy every-minute-packed trip to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Washington, D.C. was extended by a day on the front end so I could get out before a snow storm, and extended yesterday on the back end by nail-biting hours of travel home through a pre-blizzard snow storm. Today, blizzard. And unpacking, scrounging didn’t-prepare-for-the-blizzard meals from leftover crackers and chunks of cheese, a leak in the dining room. Tomorrow, digging out. In short: I am tired, lazy, and feeling irresponsible. So tonight I eschew the labor of putting together a proper Market Monday post, and instead introduce you to far more responsible folk.

Women Who Submit put on a lively and inspiring panel at AWP, where they introduced me to the idea of a “submissions party.” A group meets at a member’s house or a suitable public space, everyone brings food and drink to share, and Let the submissions begin! The more experienced members of the group show others the ropes, assisting with the language of cover letters, introducing markets, answering FAQs. They even line up speakers like journal editors and other members of the writing and publishing community. Sounds wonderful, and just the thing I needed when I first got started submitting my short stories.

The best part? They call it a submissions party because the bulk of the event is spent actually doing submissions. And every time someone hits “send” on an electronic submission or slaps a stamp on snail-mail, everyone applauds.

The group was founded in Los Angeles, but there are other groups around the country, and the panelists said they’re happy to hear from anyone interested in finding or starting a group—see their “About” page for e-mail addresses. Or, if you’re like me and you already have a submissions schedule that works for you, just surf their website and absorb the badass energy of these women. And think about connecting with one or more writing friends to develop your own support-and-celebrate routine to energize the work.

I’ll sign off with an anecdote shared by one of the ladies at the panel, founding member Dr. Ashaki M. Jackson. She said a writing friend who happens to be a submitting machine once told her she’d submitted to the same journal 15 times before they accepted a story. When asked about this tenacity, she replied with the astonishing, “Well, I knew they’d accept something eventually.” Astonishing because apparently she said it like “Duh” and because confidence like that among my writer friends is… well, not just rare, I don’t have any writer friends with that confidence. But I should, and I should have that confidence myself. So should you.

I’ve decided to stop being astonished by someone else’s faith in her own work, and use that energy to double my submissions efforts. As soon as it stops snowing. Join me?


9 Responses to “AWP Note: Women Who Submit”

  1. Sarah February 14, 2017 at 9:12 AM #

    Glad you traveled safely in all that blizzard weather! Women Who Submit looks like such a great site, and a submission party sounds like just what I need right now! You’ve got me thinking about hosting one…

    • Claire Guyton February 14, 2017 at 2:35 PM #

      I’m thinking about doing something like it, too. The ladies were all very inspiring, full of tips and wisdom, eager to share what they know. Loved it. Knew I had to do a post on them and promote their site. Not that they need any help from me or anyone, they’ve got it all going on. But others should know about them. If you do a party, let me know how it goes!

  2. cynthia February 16, 2017 at 7:09 PM #

    Damn. You were at AWP? So was I. 😳 Wish we had figured that out a little earlier.

    • Claire Guyton February 17, 2017 at 11:36 AM #

      Oh, damn, me too! My roomies and I split our time between the conference and working on a project, which left me too full to even think of checking with friends who might be there, but I wish I had, I would have loved to at least quickly touch base in person. You weren’t at the VCFA reception, right? We were there for about an hour and I did look around for familiar faces. Next time for sure! (And did you have a good time? Learn anything amazing??)

      • cynthia March 3, 2017 at 9:55 AM #

        I completely forgot about the VCFA reception until this second reading your comment. I did think it was a fun AWP. But I didn’t go to anything except the Ann Patchett conversation. I spent most of my time manning the Writing by Writers booth…

        • Claire Guyton March 3, 2017 at 11:34 AM #

          This is how bad I am, I have no idea what booth you mean. I went to the book fair only once, briefly, with one of my roomies, and almost broke out with hives bc of the crush of STUFF and PEOPLE and that whole vibe of sincere + eager + needy + special + ohmygodi’mnotspecial + lonely + nervous + hopeful + whereshouldigo + i’mgooddammit + thisisnice = Claire is OUT OF POCKET and has no clue what to do…. So it’s probably good I didn’t stumble into your space! But let’s be in touch next time, yes??

          • cynthia March 4, 2017 at 11:43 AM #


  3. Rachel Federman February 18, 2017 at 9:16 AM #

    What a great idea! Happy to find your blog through One Blue Sail and eager to look into all your creative work.

    • Claire Guyton February 18, 2017 at 9:59 AM #

      Hi Rachel! Sarah’s blog is so beautiful, isn’t it? Thanks for coming by! And if you try a submissions party let me know how it goes–I find the idea so intriguing, and I’m wondering how people can adapt it for differing needs. Happy writing!

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