writer. It doesn’t really help the editor a lot, either: the samenamount of garbage and number of masterpieces will come innthe mail no matter how much submittors study the guidelines.nWorse than any of these curses on submittors is The BignChill: that two-to-3 6-month void which occurs between thendate on which you send a submission to almost anynindependent publisher or litmag with a circulation of 100 ton10,000, and the date on which the preprinted rejection slipnis received. This often happens after several inquiries, allncontaining the ubiquitous self-addressed, stamped envelopenknown to insiders as the “SASE.” The curious thing aboutnthis waiting game is that many independent publishers arenalso writers who complain themselves about the anguish ofnThe Big Chill. What’s wrong with this picture?nSubmittors put in full days at jobs to come home, write,nand submit poetry at night. They squeeze it in among anmillion common domestic and civic duties to spouse,nchildren, home, and community. Many submittors teachnEnglish and creative writing at institutions of higher learningn(or are retired academics, or grad students hoping forntenure). Do they teach because they’re frustrated writers, ornbecause they can’t make a living writing — or do they writenbecause teaching inspires them? Never mind; the samenquestion could be asked of the millions of people withnnonacademic jobs who are published by independentnpresses.nA litmag editor’s problems are different but, of course,nrelated. Each day she faces a post office box full of sad,nfifth-rate meanderings about broken hearts or a darlingnpuppy (and that’s the better class of failures; it’s impossiblento tell what some of the leavings are about). Then there arenthe nasty notes from would-be poets who were previouslynturned down, as gently as possible, as well as the poignantnnear-misses from promising writers whom the editor will trynto mollify and coax into submitting again. On a good day,nthere’ll be one or two subscriptions, which will lull the editorninto thinking that the cost of printing the next issue is nonlonger a problem. And once in a while — just often enoughn— there will be a sheaf of brilliant poems from an oldnregular, or a pro who’s only recently discovered that litmag,nor—best of all, in many editors’ opinions — a previouslynunpublished dentist or airline stewardess. Editors, very fewnof whom teach English at universities (the one obviousnexception being university press editors), work hard at jobsnall day and then spend their evenings and weekends goingnthrough the mail, making publishing decisions, toting upndebits and credits one more time, and emptying theirnchecking account to pay the printer. Oh, yes, and writing,ntyping up. Xeroxing, and sending out their work to othernlitmags. All of which happens after a little end-of-workdaynconversation with one’s spouse, after the dishes and the kids’nhomework are done and the kids are in bed, the householdnbills paid, the plumber called, the lawn mowed.nFrom a bottom-line point of view, there’s nothing in thisnenterprise for either party: neither riches nor glory innsending literary work to independent publishers, nor innpublishing a litmag or chapbook series. Why, then, do sonmany people persevere, and why do their numbers proliferate?nThere are several motives for those who send their worknto independent publishers. These motives also determinenwhether they subscribe. First of all, there are the “HelennHooven Santmyer Wanna-bes.” These people have writtennone poem or story in their life, about Two Jima or the birth ofntheir first grandchild, say, and are convinced it’s Pulitzernmaterial. Also in this category are people who have vaguenbut uplifted feelings about “nature” and write about daffodilsnand mountains and warm spring rain on their face, andnprison inmates whose no-doubt-therapeutic work invariablynbegins, “Who am I????!!” These people are serious aboutnmany things, but writing a good poem or story is not one ofnthem. They send their work to independent publishersnbecause someone else — usually a family member or parolenofficer — suggests that they should. Teenagers fall into thisncategory, too, but they’re merely young and may very wellngrow up into fine writers. None of these people buy litmagsnor books from independent presses.nSecondly, there are the star pupils from university writingnworkshops and what Poultry (an outrageous parody tabloidnedited by Jack Flavin, Brendan Calvin, and Ceorge Garrett)ncalls “Meatloaf Mountain” — professional amateurs whoncrank out one or two pieces a day, every day, and send themnoff just as quickly. These people are scattershot experts.nThey aim to be published once in every extant litmag. (Itnmakes for a longer resume — with the effective use of whitenspace it’s possible to fashion a whole page out of 20npublished poems, if they were all published in differentnplaces — and many of these people are college professorsnwho don’t want to perish.) Once an editor publishes thesenwriters, they’re history there, that litmag a fait accompli,neven if the editor has praised them and asked for more ofntheir work. Surprisingly, what they write is often very good,nbut they don’t take time to build a readership anywhere.nTheir commerce with the litmags that publish them isnsimilar to that of a man with a prostitute: both parties beriefitna little, but not as much as they would if they had anrelationship. And these people don’t buy litmags.nThe third category of submittors to independent pressesnis larger than the other two, and balances them. Thesenpeople write, and send what they write out into the cruelnworld, simply because they love to write. Whether or notnthey graduated from or even attended college, they arenalways studying their craft. Their work ranges from mediocrento exquisite; they may be shy or masterfully selfconfident;nbut they all want to become better. They ask forncomments on their work. This is the group most botherednby The Big Chill, because they are too painstaking to benprolific, don’t have a lot of poems or stories circulating at anyngiven time, and care more about the work itself than thenwarm fuzzy that produced it or the way it will look on anresume. These people assume — often mistakenly—thatnthe editor knows more than they do. They will revisenstrenuously based on an editor’s late-night off-hand remarks.nThey will ask an editor they like who his favorite writers are,nand then study the work of those writers, not necessarily tonincrease their chances of getting published, but just tonenlarge the scope of their literary knowledge. Needless tonsay, these are the people who buy litmags. They give giftnsubscriptions to their brother-in-law and the library at theirnnnlANUARY 1989/27n