Tag Archives: submissions

Too Cold to Work



It’s been a bit chilly this afternoon, so I spent it in front of the fire in the front room. Winter, I’m afraid, tends to depress my productivity. I have up to ten submissions to make this month and so far I’ve not made much impact. Being laid up for two weeks with the infection took some of the wind out of my sails and laziness did the rest. Really, I should be doing better than this and getting ahead.

I’ve had several bits published, including this. I’m near the foot of the list of contributors and you  can click the Simon Wilson link, or you can scroll down to page 53. I’ve also had a magazine with me in it, but no internet version. As usual I will let them have it for a month or so before quoting the poems. Or I may just forget about them – they are only average. The one I’ve supplied the link for is only average too, so don’t get your hopes up – just another tale of middle aged people (who am I kidding? we are elderly people) emptying out a garage (which, to be fair, is more a plan than an actual achievement).

Some people get out into nature, or world events. I write poems that take place in my back garden. I could probably produce a chapbook of poems from the garden.

A new book arrived today, which I am enjoying. I’m reading bits at random – it’s not the sort of book to go from beginning to end. It’s the Oxford Dictionary of Allusions in case you are wondering – a book of limited interest to most people, I admit.


A Very Quick Blog Post

When I switched TV off I had 20 minutes between programmes, which is often enough to write a short blog post. By the time I’d had a drink, a slice of olive bread and a quick read/reply session, this has fallen to 5 minutes.

I’m going to write as much as I can and come back to it later. Unless I fall asleep in front of the TV. Or unless I write so fast I finish my 250 words in 5 minutes.

I’ve done eighty words in three minutes so you never know.

Today was marked by a slight feeling of not being as well as yesterday. It’s almost undefinable, but it was definitely there for the first few hours. Apart from that we passed a pleasant day chatting and watching TV. Well, I did, Julia sometimes replied and sometimes watched TV but mainly she wrote a grant application for the MENCAP Gardens.

She won’t, of course, be paid for it, and probably won’t be thanked for it, but that’s how she’s always worked. And a willing worker will always find an employer willing to take advantage.

183 words – six minutes. I will come back to this later.

In fact, I won’t. It’s close enough to the end to keep going. I also managed to write the outlines of two good poems this afternoon. It’s hard at the moment because I’n not quite sharp enough yet, and because I don’t have anything to aim for this month. After a quiet month in October, I have a quiet month in November, then one fo those months that come round every quarter, when everyone seems to be open for submissions. I think I have twelve submission opportunities in December. And Christmas.

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. AKA Wayne Manor in one of the Batman Films.

284 words done. Self-imposed target reached. Ten minutes.


The Story So Far

I’m not quite sure what to write about now. Covid is passing, I slept well last night and am feeling better today, though still have a streaming cold. Also still a little vague, having lost two pairs of glasses, a box of pills and all my spare handkerchiefs.

The main topic is that WP is still playing up after three days. I will answer comments then, sometimes (annoyingly not every time) an answer will refuse to load. At one point I lost all the replies from that session. It was about twenty minutes work – not a tragedy, but still a matter of great irritation. Experience shows that this heralds a new, and inaccurately named,  “improvement”.

I’m currently stuck again. Pressing the button to send a reply to Derrick resulted in a small circle going endlessly round and round. I reloaded, I switched off and started again, I pressed various random things and now it is still sitting there circling. That’s been about an hour now.

If there was a serious alternative I would use it, but as nothing seems quite as good there’s no point changing. Although I enjoy it, I sometimes wish I’d never started.

Meanwhile, I have now made 11 submissions this month. I may go on to do another and, even another, depending on how superstitious I am feeling. Alternatively, I may leave the 13th until next month – they are one of the few magazines that does not use a submission window system and it can then be number one of the new month. Next month, has very few places to submit to, so I will mainly be writing in preparation for December, which is another bumper month for submissions. I already have twelve noted. In comparison I have three noted for October and one for November. I must look harder.

I already have acceptances for this month, so something is going right. I’m hoping there will be a few more once the window closes.

Well, that’s it for now.  No change at WP – my replies still aren’t loading. Very irritating.


Missed a day – Ooops!

I missed a day. Sorry about that. It would be nice to report that after leaving work on Saturday I became embroiled in writing and wasn’t able to find time to produce a blog post, but in fact I spent most of the time sleeping. I actually went to bed in the afternoon for about 4 hours. It was, I think, nature’s way of telling me to sleep more and get back to a sensible routine.

At the back of my mind I have an idea that I should be able to produce good work in the early hours of the morning when everything is quiet and there is nobody to disturb me. This was true at one time, but these days I tend to find that I don’t do anything worthwhile after midnight. All that happens is that after an hour or two of doing nothing useful I go to be, sleep badly and next day, find myself nodding off in the afternoon or evening.

At the moment I have three submissions to edit before sending them off, and two others to finish writing. I suppose that I can at least take pleasure from the fact that I have three ready. This is three more than I manged in either February or May, so it’s not all bad, even if it short of target. With two days to go I can still do a bit better, so I’ll get this finished and get to work.

Of course, as soon as I say that, the ideas stop. Julia just called me to remind me that we are going out tonight. We are going to a carvery. I had forgotten ll about it. If I’d remembered I would have cooked a smaller brunch.

Random photos, sorry, I have no inspiration. Two views of the red boat at Dunwich. One from last week, one from several years ago.

Red boat at Dunwich

Grumbles and Guest Photos

Red Boat at Southwold

The end of the month draws nearer. I have two submissions ready to go, though I actually had six planned. One of those passed on 25th, leaving just five. I really need to get a move on. It’s not this month I need to worry about, it’s the six for the months after that, and the six for the month after that . . .

It’s hard to believe that at one time I was sending my submissions off at the start of the month rather than letting it drag on until the end. The advantage I find with submitting for the end of the month is that you hear from the editors sooner.

In the shop we had no customers calling to buy and nobody coming to sell. Just three aging men muttering to each other and, in my case, answering vexatious telephone calls. It was a vintage day for phone calls. From callers on bad lines to callers who seemed determined not to give me any information (despite ringing me to ask bout their coins), to customers who has seen their 25p coin on eBay for £14,000, we had them all.

Southwold – Gun Hill

Finally, released from work and free to use the keyboard, I wrote most of my daily blog, went for tea, watched TV and fell asleep just before midnight. That is why I will be writing the minimum number of words and going to bed.

One thing we noted today was that things we put on new (such as a run of medallions) not only stimulate sales (we sold two of the new medallions within an hour) , but seem to have an effect on the sale of similar, older items. Three of todays sales were medallions that had been on sale for six months or more. There must be a PhD thesis in there somewhere.

The pictures today are all guest pictures from Julia, who took them during our recent trip to Norfolk, including an artistic bicycle shot, the red boat from Dunwich and the cannon from Southwold – site of the Battle of Sole Bay.

Southwold – Parked Bicycle and Atmospheric Clouds


Some thoughts on Long Covid

I made six submissions last month, all apart from one were in the final week of the month. This month I have only two submissions to make, and have made them both already.

This is a welcome return to what I consider normality. Twelve months ago I was able to make the month’s submissions on the days the submission windows opened. Illness intervened and I found myself entering a period where I was mainly editing work that was already written, and I was struggling to complete it and submit for the end of the period. After six months I started writing new poems again, and it is only this month that I have managed to get far enough ahead to submit closer to the beginning of the period.

I could have submitted sooner, but have become lazy in the last year.

The advantage of submitting earlier in the period is that (in my theory, at least) you establish yourself as the favoured candidate, and later submissions have to work harder to push you out.

The advantage of submitting later is that you (probably) have more time to let the piece mature (unless, like me, you are struggling to keep up) and you get answers quicker, as decisions are made within days of submission rather than waiting until the end of the month.

In years to come, the mythical PhD student I always think I’m writing for, will be able to read this post and add it to the list of Long Covid symptoms – difficulty in writing new poetry. I didn’t write anything new for several months after Covid, and even struggled to knock the existing writing into shape. I then spent a long time struggling to write anything new – resulting in missed deadlines and lots of last minute submissions. Finally I managed to find some form and, for the last month, have finally started writing with fluidity again. The plan for next month is that I will submit as much as possible in the first week of the month, using things which I am finalising now.

What a difference a year makes.

Day 150

Californian Poppies

Today, I am going to rush through my 250 words and then get on with something else. I only realised this morning, with a shock, that it is the last day of May and I have submissions to make before midnight. Having been caught up at work this evening, then slept in front of the TV I find myself a little short on time.

This afternoon was interesting. We left work at 4.00 and locked the shop. My workmate exchanged a few words with an elderly gent and walked away. The man then came to me. I smiled in a warm and friendly manner, expecting some comment on our opening hours. Instead he said, “I need help, please can you help me?”

It was the start of a series of events that lasted for over an hour. That’s not long in terms of a lifetime, but it’s quit a long time to be involved in the problems of a complete stranger.


His problem was that he had been dropped off by a taxi driver. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going (apart from the fact it was a hospital). He had no money, no phone and no ID. All this came out in the course of our conversation. He wasn’t quite sure how old he was – late 80s – but the age and DOB he gave didn’t match up, and there was nobody at home we could ring because his partner was in hospital and was expecting him to visit. He was a touch confused, though he seemed o know his name and address, and had not shaved recently or had the benefit of clean clothes. This was not a man for whom things were going well, and in some respects, it was like looking in a mirror.

It was also a nudge into a memory that I don’t really like. About 40 years ago I saw a confused elderly man hit by a car as he tried to cross the M11 motorway near Cambridge. He went flying through the air, and when I attended the inquest the events of that afternoon had clearly placed a great strain on both the car driver and the wife of the deceased. I wasn’t going to let him wander off, but there wasn’t  a lot I could do to help him either.


In the end I had to ring the police and wait until an officer turned up to attend to him. She was very friendly and efficient, and asked all the right questions and took him home, where she was going to check with the neighbours and see what was happening. I will probably hear no more about the story, and will always wonder how things turned out but, in the manner of these things, I suspect it is the start of a change in his life that will not be to his advantage. I hope he has a family and that they gather round to help.

And on that sombre note I will leave you and go to finish my submissions for the month. I am going to make the most of my brain while it is still working. Not sure what photographs I am going to post with this, I will try for something cheerful.

Yellow Flag Iris

Day 128

The honeysuckle at the bottom of the garden was, according to Julia, heaving with bees and insect life. It’s down two flights of steps, due to our hillside location, and I decided not to risk it, so there are no photographs. I really must find my spirit of adventure and start getting out again.

The poppies are doing well in the front and there were plenty of insects in the rosemary and valerian, though the rosemary flowers are tailing off. It is a much under-rated shrub, being able to survive a drought, grow in poor soil and shrug off neglect. This is fortunate, as that is precisely the way I look after it. I will be rooting some cuttings this year as I am feeling the need for more rosemary. There is plenty of room in the back garden for more plants and I do hate buying things if I can grow them.

From a poetry point of view, today has been a productive day. I have lacked focus and direction, but have produced in quantity. Before going to bed, I will be looking at this month;s deadlines and dividing some of the work up to ensure I am working towards making submissions.

Last month was poor for submissions, but sometimes you just need to allow yourself to slack a little. I’m now feeling fully recovered. The strange thing is that if you’d asked me in February, March or April I would have said I had recovered. However, it’s undeniable that I felt a lot better last week – whether due to time, season or just getting more sleep.

Day 31

It didn’t seem natural to begin with, but numbering instead of titling the posts now seems normal, and saves time. However, unlike a finely crafted pun or alliteration there is little satisfaction to be gained from just writing a number. I may have to reconsider later in the year.

All my submissions are in and there is still an hour to spare. It isn’t the best way of doing things, but it certainly got me moving. Five submissions in three days, and some of them weren’t even written at this time last night. I think we can say that the pressure got me writing again. I’m just contemplating using the time difference between here and the USA to my advantage, but that might be overdoing it.

I now need to update my submissions log. I also need to write the submissions plan for the coming year. Then I need to sort out my haiku and tanka. Because they don’t have titles, and because I’ve taken my eye off the ball, I have lost control of them and don’t know what’s what. That was one of the reasons I had to write new tanka, I just can’t remember where I’ve sent some of the existing ones before, and I can’t recall every accepted one.

Time for bed now, and the admin and other problems can wait.

Here is the Larkin poem – it’s not quite as good as I remember it, but then I have deteriorated with the passing of the years. It was originally in Failed Haiku Number 62 and there are a few notes about it here and here.

Hidden Worlds

He wears a grey gaberdine and rides a bicycle from church to church.
In his head he composes poems about sex and tombs. On YouTube he
flickers in black and white, like a newsreel from the 1950s. Smiles are
clearly still on ration.

Larkin used more bad language than you normally expect from a
librarian. This becomes understandable when you find that he started
his day with half a bottle of sherry.

monochrome photo
my parents younger than me

The header picture is the sort of picture I think a poet should have -, not like the pale and washed out old codger that actually appears in my biographical notes.


Day 30

In terms of creativity and industry things haven’t worked out that well. In other ways it has been  a pleasant and relaxing day. This qualifies it as a tick in the “good day” column of the celestial ledger, and I am now bringing it to a close with a smile on my face.

Normally I like to approach a deadline with plenty of material already written and refined. My deadline is 31st January which is tomorrow (for the next 22 minutes, when it will become “today”.

Fortunately, last time I had a rejection all the ten haiku had been written a few days before submission so I was able to look at them again and make improvements (I know I ought to give time for them to mature, but it always seems like I don’t have enough). I’m hoping that one will be acceptable this time round.

Submitting to editors is an art and not a science. What works with one editor doesn’t necessarily work with another and many of my poems have been accepted after two or three rejections. The best example I have is my haibun about Philip Larkin. I’ll add it at the bottom of post if I can find it. That haibun went out four times and came back four times. I tinkered a little each time to tighten it up, but didn’t change it too much. The fourth time it came back I sent it out again the next day and had it accepted in two days. Which goes to show that you can never tell what is around the corner. I have seen interviews where established writers have sent out poems a lot more than that. I don’t have that sort of confidence. After three or four failures I usually retire them.

However, I’ve been trawling through them today, looking for pieces that are good enough to send out. I’ve found three, polished them, and sent them out and am now looking for three more. After that I just need to write ten tanka in the next 23 hours and I’m laughing.

There are several more deadlines that I decided to ignore. One journal has been rejecting me constantly since a change of editor, for instance, and another is fond of heavy-handed editing. I’m going to give them a miss this month and catch them next time they come round.

In fact, I’d better get back to work – ten tanka won’t write themselves.

Later, far too much later on a work night, I have all three of the next batch of haibun assembled, and I realised I forgot the Larkin piece. I will search it out tomorrow.