Do the Dirty Dance

Bolton Carley gives her Submit-O-Rama experience two thumbs up.

How can a person say “no” to something called a Submit-O-Rama?  That, my friends, is just too creative to dismiss!  Plus, don’t we all need a kick in the tookus once in a while to get that writing off our computers and out into the real world?  Or is that just me?

Thanks to Khara House’s Submit-O-Rama challenge in which writers pledged to submit their work each week during October, I was pushed out into the submitting hemisphere.  With various levels of commitment offered, I could choose to send out writing daily, making me an uber challenger. Or I could be an alpha dog by submitting to 26 different mags from each letter of the alphabet.  Because of my full-time job and my submit-o-phobia, I went for the “choose your own rules” level, sending out two pieces a week.  I buddied up to my favorite resource, Duotrope, to catch the cool places to send my writing.  Khara also provided fodder on her blog. 

Although I love poetry, I am more confident in writing fiction.  Perhaps I’m less panicky about my fic because I often write on two sites, 6S and Thinking Ten.  Both places offer a speedy warm-up for the day with no cost, and you get helpful comments from a great community.  Thanks to those communities, their advice, and my husband’s support, I have realized that “nobody puts Baby in the corner!”

The only “problem” I ran into was that I found myself writing new material to send to each place in my desire to meet the publication’s specified theme or topic of the month.  Good news:  I still have plenty of pieces to send out elsewhere.  Bad news:  the ones I sent probably didn’t get the editing they deserved.  Personally though, I’ve found the longer I hold on to something the more I criticize it and not like it, and honestly, that’s one thing I’ve learned in life as in writing:  you have to know yourself. 

Because I know I doubt myself, sometimes I just have to let it fly off the paper and out the door immediately.  I also know that dialogue and voice are my strengths so I search for those requested themes first.  As a writer, you should do what’s best for you and leave your insecurities on the back burner till you ship the pieces out.  Then you can eat that carton of ice cream and hyperventilate on the couch. 

Just remember that if one editor out there thinks your material is writing roadkill, it won’t be the last one.  (Sorry, let me rephrase that:  there’s always someone else to try.) 

For me, we’ve hit November and now it’s just a matter of waiting, and waiting some more, to see if I’m writing roadkill (aka I didn’t crack into their wheelhouse) or if something struck a chord with the editors.  And hey, we all have those moments where we embarrassingly say, “I carried a watermelon” – ours just happen on paper.  So our job is to find the Johnny Castles who love us and our work! 


Did you participate in the October Submit-O-Rama?  Do you have a Johnny Castle success story from participating?  Let’s hear it! Or if you still want to give it a shot, it’s not too late.  Just merengue on over to Khara’s blog for the inside scoop.



Jack of all trades, Bolton Carley put on her fiction hat to bring you this article.  But don’t worry, she kept her humorous thug stocking cap on, too!  You can find her verse novella, Hello, Summer Vacay! on Amazon.

15 comments for “Do the Dirty Dance

  1. November 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Ms. Bolton,
    Well done! Happy to see your post and can’t wait to hear of all your success. I have faith! How could anyone turn you down.

    • boltoncarley
      November 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      oh carol, they already have! 🙂 2 rejections in 2 days. but i will look forward to hearing your good news! 🙂

  2. Linda G Hatton
    November 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    First of all, I love that picture of you. You are so danged cute! And I enjoyed reading!

    I can relate to your comment, “I’ve found the longer I hold on to something the more I criticize it and not like it . . .” But the good news is that on days when the new stuff doesn’t want to come out, those pieces are there to be edited and resubmitted. I did that with a lot of my poems.

    I found that the submit-o-rama had me more focused on the number and my duty of submitting pieces, so I had less time to worry about rejection.

    • boltoncarley
      November 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      that’s a great observation, linda. i think that applies to me, too. i was too worried about getting my quota that i didn’t freak out about rejection or if it was good enough. let’s hope it works out for both of us! 🙂

  3. Khara House
    November 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Great write-up, BC! I found myself in the same spot at one point: writing something new to send out, and letting it fly right off from screen to “submitted”! One thing I loved about this challenge, and part of why I offered it, was the opportunity to stop fretting (at least a little) over the question of “Is this good enough? Will they like it?” and just get some work out there! Even if everything I sent out gets rejected (fingers crossed!) I at least know I got a great deal of the messy work of the writerly life done!

    • boltoncarley
      November 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      well, it was a smart plan on your behalf! that’s exactly what happened for me, too. it forced my hand and we will all cross our fingers on that!

  4. November 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Submit-o-phobia. You mean I’m not the only one? I signed up for the Über-challenge. Ha! But like the memoir challenge…I will continue on to success…on my own timeline. October 2013? Good to have folks cheering us from the sidelines and urging us on when we think we can’t.

    • boltoncarley
      November 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      oh no, lara! definitely not the only one! 🙂 and no worries on the timeline. you at least have hopes of uber. i chose my own knowing it wouldn’t happen. lol.

  5. Amy
    November 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Can I skip the submissions stuff and just get to dance with Johnny Castle? LOL!
    I signed up for Submit-O-Rama but was too swamped to actually do anything. But I am so glad you were able to get out of that corner and dance. 🙂

    • boltoncarley
      November 9, 2012 at 6:37 am

      listen, any smart woman would take their turn on the dance floor with johnny! maybe i’d have skills at this ripe old age! but you said so yourself, you can make this month your submit-o-rama! 🙂

  6. November 9, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Hey Bolton, great post, great picture!

    I congratulate you on that achievement, especially that you actually wrote new texts to fit the requirements of different markets. That is always very hard when you are in a hurry to submit. I also agree that too much scrutinizing your own work may bring about negative results and, what is more important, twisted results.
    I know a lot of people here will share the same – sometimes I have readers like best what I like least and don’t care for my favorite pieces.

    Anyway this submission marathon ends for you, I can see you happy with it and the personal revelations you had during that month. And I believe that is part of the essence which makes us grow as authors.

    well-done, Bolton! <3

    • boltoncarley
      November 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      thanks, mariya! it is good to know i’m not alone on scrutinizing! now, i just need to send something out this month! lol. 🙂 i’m sure you’re well on your way there!

  7. elissa field
    November 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Bolton, thanks so much for sharing this! It’s great advice to know your strengths and aim for them, first. It’s so easy to get bogged down in revisions that your experience with the Submit-O-Rama is a great reminder of how energizing it is to just get work out there. Like they used to say of the lottery: you can’t win if you don’t play. Congrats to you for getting your work out in the world and still having words enough left to share this great post with us! Good luck with your submissions.

    • boltoncarley
      November 15, 2012 at 6:38 am

      elissa – i think you nailed that on the head! writing is definitely a lottery! 🙂 best of luck to you, too! 🙂

  8. November 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Great post, Bolton, and congratulations on taking the challenge to submit. I’m not surprised that dialogue is a strength.

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