Submit or submission. Verb or noun, action or being.
To submit: from the Latin, ‘to send.’
Submission, from the Latin, ‘letting down.’
A letter posted or hair spooling out of a clip and down a back.
An email or milk. Soaring versus falling.
I spent a lovely evening talking with a poet and editor, and near the end we began discussing why more women don’t submit to journals. And there are a thousand reasons, from economic disparity to enculturation to hormones, nature to nurture. But brass tacks: while I was a poetry editor, the number of male to female applicants was dismaying. In a statistical maelstrom of more women earning under- and graduate college degrees, where were the objects of dissemination, the products of meaning produced by both sides of the aisle?
And yet, as a poet who happens to have a vagina, I understand. My young male colleagues send things out “willy-nilly” even if the work is seemingly undone. The men are punk. It is not to say that there are not some women Debbie Harrying their way, but for the men it is sort of derigueur. Still. Can I check the calendar–– we are in 2015, right?
For all my rule breaking, I am a rule follower. If you tell me to put last name no comma first name, in blue ink, I will. And I'll think you terribly inadequate for not doing so. This might not be a gender thing, it might be a politeness thing. But politeness seems to have aligned itself along estrogen levels found in a tube of clotting blood.
The poet I was having a beer with said an editor asked him for poems asap, and he responded in 10 minutes with work. And the editor (a woman) mentioned that the women she asked for work wouldn’t respond for a week. If that. Is time gendered? That grates, and rings true.
So many of us need to be right, stand on solid ground. And honestly, for those of us abused in some way, there is a tension that exists with the word. Right? Which is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/6 of all women—how many of those are artists and writers? And even if lucky to not be in that subgroup, how many of us have spent years pushing back against docility and compliance? Could the low count in submissions be part and parcel of the word, a constant renegotiation of meaning?
I have spent a lifetime needing to make sure every representation is true and irrefutable, because mistakes have consequences. Language matters. And if someone asks for something, demands it, requires us to prove our ability to hoop jump, some of us will abdicate. Some of us will jump effortlessly but many will freeze half way with doubt and be rendered null. Submission… what if your form of defiance or resistence is the thing you actually need to do? And imagine if we weren’t asked to submit, but turn in, deliver, send, present. Give.
All of which is to say, I submitted work, through a submission manager, named submittable. Culled five sets of 5-6 poems, edited them a final time. Wrote the cover letters, gave thanks, attached a bio. And paid a fee for the privilege. I yielded, and surrendered. Tendered and sent. The poems re-nouned themselves, renamed themselves, in the verbing of the act. My work became a submission.
More will be sent tomorrow, which is now today. Because the process of submitting is still a bit of a minefield for me. The thing I most want and least want in a lexiconic bed together. Don't even get me started on the complications of the word under real covers. But somehow pushing through made the word lose a bit of its power… and writing this fanned air into the interstices of meaning, created elbow room for other possibilities. Submission just grew another limb.
Loving the word and giving it due made it a gray zone. As much as I want the ground to be solid, that is the place I swim every day.
Just part of the process. Joining the conversation instead of talking to yourself. And from now on, I am going to submit the hell out things. The punk rock camp always has room for one more.
1. the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. "they were forced into submission"
a proposal, application, or other document that is presented in this way.
LAW a proposition or argument presented by a lawyer to a judge or jury (argument, assertion, contention, statement, claim, allegation)
late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin submissio(n-), from submittere (see submit), 'to lower, let down, reduce, yield,' equivalent to sub- sub- + mittere 'to send, put.' Sense 2 ‘present for judgment’ dates from the mid 16th century.