20 November, 2008


I love that word, and not just because I'm a writer. It's also got very little to do with the fact that I just submitted a personal essay to a magazine I've admired for a couple of years. I think my love affair with that word has more to do with its multiple meanings. Submission could refer to the above mentioned literary endeavor, or it could mean to give over and yield power to someone or something, to surrender.

All too often, the idea of submission or surrender feels like a negative thing. The weakened warring nation had no choice but to submit to their enemy. The dominatrix forced her naughty client to submit (though for the submissive this is probably a positive thing.) After giving everything she had to keep her head above water, the only option left was for her to submit.

And yet, when carrying a burden on one's back, is it not best to surrender worries to a higher power? She faced her goddess and knelt in submission. When battling an illness, we submit to treatment. When you know your best friend is right, you submit to her better judgment. I browsed through the contents inside the envelope one last time before dropping my submission into the mailbox.

The word originated from the Middle-English word submitten, which is what I would have done had Geoffrey Chaucer written a poem in my honor. The Middle-English word was derived from the Latin word submittere.

So what about you? Are your submissions in order?


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a beautiful new way to think about submission! Maybe if I follow your advice I won't be quite so freaked out by it. It's true that there are many things out of our control, and sometimes we just need to submit.

Nicole Ireland said...

You are so smart, Jenny. Seriously, this does give a different perspective of the word. Thanks for sharing.

Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, we are submitting to the whims of an editor or agent when we send our work out. We're hoping somehow they get the picture we've created in our minds. It can be a real let down when they just don't see it!

Morgan Mandel