Delayed–a word most of us hate. Whether it’s waiting for my Amazon order, waiting for my flight, waiting for a response to a query, waiting for the publication of my book, waiting for the cable man, waiting for the stock of toilet paper to be replenished, or waiting for an end to the coronavirus, I hate to wait. Right now I feel as if my whole world is delayed like a flight home for Mother’s Day.
In The Shape of Poetry, Peter Meinke, Florida’s Poet Laureate says, “Delayed gratification is more complicated than you thought.” He was referring to the response to a submission of a poem, but it could be one of many things today. For example in Florida, unemployed workers seeking unemployment benefits have suffered from delayed gratification, and everyone in the world is waiting for a vaccine.
Since it poetry month, my post today deals with the delays poets deal with on a daily basis. Poets send queries to publishers. A query resembles the dreaded cover letter we used to send when applying for a job. The purpose of the query is to ask a publisher to consider publishing our poem. Usually, cover letters got responses relatively quickly. The applicant learned whether or not he would get the job. Not so with poetry. Some publishers do not respond unless they plan to publish the poem. Even if the publisher wants the poem, the poet might not hear whether the poem submitted to a publisher has or has not been accepted for months.
According to Mr. Meinke, we are working on other poems by the time we get the response. He adds we may “barely remember this one.”
If you are planning to write and publish poetry, be prepared for delayed gratification. Don’t expect a quick response. Consider this time of waiting for the end of Covid-19 as practice for waiting to hear from an agent or publisher. I thought pausing for a response to a query was the worst wait ever, but I know better now. Putting our lives on pause waiting for the pandemic to be over is the worse delay ever.
Stay safe. Pray for our heroes and helpers risking their lives to make the world a better place and saving our lives. Consider writing a tribute poem dedicated to one or more of our heroes. Then submit it to a publisher and wait.