Here’s a new strategy I’m trying out for submissions to all the literary magazines out there. After I finish writing some new things relatively quickly, I pick the piece that seems the least terrible and pair it with a couple of older things (things that have been rewritten a lot, and that have withstood scrutiny long enough without getting deleted that I’m pretty sure they’re okay or even good). Now I take this mismatched handful of things and turn it into a submission as if the new thing belonged with the old thing. What’s happening is that the new pieces are overwhelmingly being accepted alone or, sometimes, with one of the old pieces. This either proves that

  • literary magazines are unpredictable,
  • my writing is improving,
  • my ability to appraise my writing is improving, or
  • things written quickly and assuredly are better than things that have been endlessly worked over.

Dream: It’s 5am in the suburbs outside Baltimore. My friend and I are putting things—clothes, clocks, tupperware—into suitcases. We live in a tent city, but our suitcases are brand new, shiny, and expensive. Just when my friend is about to put his arm around me, several children from the tent city arrive with toothbrushes, asking us for help. The morning is ruined. I wake up before I can be trapped in the tent city parking garage.

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