Rejection Sucks

Rejection sucks.  No matter how many times someone tells me, with the best of intentions, that rejection is part of the ‘business,’ it still sucks.

I’m a big girl.  I understand that not every journal needs work like mine.  I’ve even been the editor sending out the letters.  Perhaps that’s why I cringe and wilt some every time I get one; I know that “this writing is terrible; don’t they know it’s awful?” may have actually crossed the mind of the poor editor experiencing my submission.  I realize that we’d all like to believe that the editor is some kind-hearted tooth-fairy-type, but that’s because no one, me included, wants to confront the reality.

Editors are beasts.  They are protecting the design and poetic aesthetic of their publications.  They are working against deadlines, juggling full-time employment, and often facing bankruptcy.  Any writer’s work that doesn’t fit in with the view or vision of that press gets rejected.  On rare occasions, the work actually fits the aesthetic, but the caliber of the work doesn’t reach the level of other submissions. 

Frankly, maybe I used too many ‘to be’ verbs.  Maybe the editor didn’t appreciate my line breaks.  Maybe that profound moment which was authentic and true for me feels sentimental and overblown to the editor.    On some higher, cerebral level, I respect that.

It still sucks.

I even have a system for dealing with this situation.  I almost always have something out for review.  That way when the rejection letter comes from one press, there’s still the chance that something else will be picked up elsewhere.  It’s the eternal cycle.

Unfortunately when I receive one of these letters, inevitably I stop writing, even if it’s only for a few days.  I just get the wind knocked out for a bit and need to regroup before I can keep writing.  Every so often, I actually get a letter which show time and effort because the editor actually addresses me personally.  But mostly I wait six months, only to be told “We regret to inform you that we did not accept your work for publication at this time.  Feel free to submit again.”


Poets should Read Read Read

Earlier this summer, I made the personal commitment to send more of my poetry out to publishers and presses.  My reluctance stemmed from the belief, right or wrong, that perhaps I had nothing to offer that discourse community.  Making that step took some fortitude.

It has been several years since I was part of a college writing community, so I began by looking at journals I was familiar with.

The search has been heartbreaking.  I realize that the economy has been poor.  My husband is a realtor.  It wasn’t like I could miss that memo.  But to look up one journal after another and learn that they no longer publish, or went on extended hiatus has been frustrating and sad.  The possible end to Chiron Review, one of the few Kansas presses, hit close to home.  And I realize that I’m partially to blame.  Like many, I wasn’t reading or subscribing either.

I know that many journals are caught between the advancements of technology and the aesthetic of artists that traditionally shy away from “machines.”  Several of my professors eschewed anything more advanced than a typewriter.  And yet there are some wonderful online entities that are actively sharing work.

So what can one lone poet do?  I can encourage you to find your own journals to follow, to subscribe to, to read.  Here are some suggestions:

Conte Journal of Narrative Poetry

Apple Valley Review


Southeast Review