4 Reasons Why My/Your Work Gets Rejected

Reuse-Reduce-Recycle–> This is one of my favorite posts and is a gentle reminder to us all that rejection is just part of the game.  If you want to be a writer, expect it.

I write to be read.  I recognize that finding the right venue for my work is not always an easy job.  I spend a great deal of time researching journals and venues in the hopes of finding the right media.  Handling rejection… can be… tough, to say the least.  And yet, it’s an integral part of the writing process.  Not everyone is going to like my work—just like I don’t like everything I read.  I really held on to the fantasy that all I would need to do was write in a ‘room of my own,’ and all that other crap would be handled by some ephemeral agent/editor type because, yeah, I’m that talented—NOT.

Enough with the high school repartee…

So what are the reasons for rejection?

1. They’ve got limited space and have already promised it elsewhere.

Despite the effort I make to submit during a reading period, editors sometimes “close” the reading period when they feel they’ve received the pieces they want to showcase.  Not every journal waits to send out acceptance notices, especially when good items land on their desks.  Many major journals and publications allow for simultaneous submissions, as long as you notify them of acceptance elsewhere.  They then remove the poem from their own consideration pile.  This has led to a trend of very quick response times at some journals.  Visit Duotrope to check for submission turn-around time. So even though they may state that they are in the midst of a reading period, that door might be metaphorically closed already.

* side note—although duotrope has been free in the past, they are shifting their business model to a paid subscription plan.

2. It’s not a submission period

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to get sometimes, but if it’s NOT the reading period, editors literally throw unsolicited items in the trash.

3. The aesthetics don’t align

Blanket submissions are insulting for everyone.  They are an insult to the editor/journal.  It means you didn’t even bother to check and see if your work fits.  Worse, blanket submissions are an insult to the work itself.  Simply put, you value your work so cheaply, you simply throw it away (along with your money at times).  But moving beyond this, I’ve submitted to journals where I thought my work really did fit the “feel” of the publication.  Rarely do I receive any feedback—just a polite, “Thanks for your submission but we do not have need of your work at this time.”  So why didn’t my poem get in?  Sometimes informal themes begin to emerge as submissions are considered.  Sometimes an inexperienced reader tosses things into a discard pile that might be accepted by a more discerning reader (I totally tell myself this, but it’s probably wishful thinking).  One thing to remember is that editors and ‘readers’ for journals are human.  They have good days and bad.

4. The work needs work

Nobody wants to admit it, but sometimes we just write crap. We get impatient and submit prematurely.  We get really attached to sentimental drivel.  I have a poem where I explore some of my deepest emotional fears.  The lines are awful and lack detail.  They sound like a twelve-year-old wrote them.  Maybe I’M the audience for that one.  No one wants to admit that they just aren’t good enough yet.  But mastering writing is a life-long process.  One teacher told me it’s the longest apprenticeship.

IApril Pameticky’m not much of an expert on publishing, but I keep plugging away.  And there are vast and distinct differences between poetry/short fiction anthologies that are sponsored by nonprofit entities and schools, and the for-profit publishing industry that focuses on mass market paperbacks.  Reminding myself of these four little answers to the question of ‘why’ helps me maintain clarity in the often-muddled process of developing an audience.



Trying to Organize my Poetry = Blech

real simpleI cyclically go through phases where I have a desperate need to clear away clutter and simplify my life.  Unfortunately, these tendencies rarely extend in all directions.  That means while I’m cleaning out the clutter in the kitchen junk drawer, the hall linen closet gets stuffed with unfolded sheets.  Martha Stewart I am NOT.

I’m not sure about other writers, but over the years, I’ve accumulated a great deal of POEMS.  Trying to organize these various documents and files has become a little overwhelming.  Why aren’t they just in alphabetical order, you ask? Because that would be too freaking simple!

No, seriously, they aren’t in alphabetical order because pieces are in various stages of editing and revision.  Sometimes they are bunched up as I consider themes and collections.  Sometimes they are leftovers from writing assignments in classes.  Frankly, I even have multiple copies of the SAME poem in ten different places (which makes things doubly confusing when I edit/revise in one location and then forget exactly WHERE that location Is).

One of the nice things about Nanowrimo is that the organization would send out weekly reminders to back up your novel.  I LOVE this because I would take time, right then, to save the document to the cloud.  It’s not like I don’t know to “save” my work, but how many of us do this with regularity? (Shut IT if you are one of those a-holes who is always on top of this)  By the same token, I’d like to get my work uploaded somewhere safe and in a cohesive manner that’s easily navigable.

This is one of those occasions when I would LOVE to hear from others about their suggestions.  Feel free to comment below, via twitter, or on my facebook page.  Right now, I’ve decided to put poems under “theme” headings, like “School/Teacher” poems.  Then if a poem gets published somewhere, I’m going to change the name the document is saved under to include the publication’s name and date.

I suppose I’m inspired to do this in part because I try to organize and simplify my life EVERY new year.  Even though I know some of my efforts fall apart over the course of the year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to realize that I am NOT quite the same flitterbegibbit that I was at twenty-one.  Gosh, it’s been at least a month since I lost my keys!

Now where the hell are my sunglasses?

Reviews for Sand River are here!

The Shocker, the alumni magazine of WSU, has included Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been on their Shocker bookshelf!  Go here to read the review (along with Rob Grave’s Nightmarism-just keep scrolling down).

Now that you’ve read that review, here are two more!

From poet Michele Battiste

Nothing is what you expect it to be in the places that April Pameticky has been. And yet, after she reveals the truth of things, you say to yourself, “of course.” Of course courage is “a sister-cluster of dryer lint and dirt.” And certainly grief eats cereal straight from the box while it snuggles next to you on the couch. Pameticky takes us through the looking glass, where a world often considered pleasant but banal – the world of wife and mother and middle school teacher – is transformed into a darker, dangerous, but far more fascinating realm.

Michele Battiste is the author of the poetry collections Ink for an Odd Cartography (2009) and Uprising (2013), both from Black Lawrence Press. She is also the author of four chapbooks, the latest of which is Lineage (Binge Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Anti-, The Awl, Mid-American Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. She lives in Boulder, CO where she raises funds for nonprofits undoing corporate evil.

From poet John Jenkinson

Generous, smart, and musical, April Pameticky’s first chapbook, Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been, presents the reader with a Baedeker of the heart. From Sand River to Blackwell, middle-school to “the corner,” “from elm to oak,” Pameticky’s poetry vibrates with wit, intelligence, and a lively lyric voice given to stunning turns of phrase and wry observation. “The truth is not always true,” urges the poet, as she strokes us “to a mild whimper” – or a wild roar of realization. April Pameticky is real – each poem “a fist landed with precision,” and this brief collection, Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been, a necessary and welcome addition to the 21st century bookshelf.
John Jenkinson, author, REBEKAH ORDERS LASAGNA

Jenkinson has received an AWP Intro Journals award, the Ellipses Prize, a New Voices Award, a Balticon Science Fiction Award, and awards from Kansas Voices.  His work appears in a variety of journals and anthologies including Slipstream and The Mennonite. He has published several chapbooks with B.G.S., Hard Knocks, and Basilisk presses, and his first full-length collection, Rebekah Orders Lasagna, has just appeared from Woodley Press.

Buying Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been

Convinced? Travel here to put your order in directly to Finishing Line Press for Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been.  Help me ensure a large and significant print run. Did I mention that it’s my birthday?

Prompt #30: The End

npm2013_logoEven as I typed out this last prompt, I found it a little anticlimactic. Is that it? All the prompts? I’m done then? I don’t really want to be done. 
No worries. While the prompts won’t continue in the same daily fashion, I look forward to sharing the many great poems that have been shared with me, either in the comment section or via my email at aprilpameticky@hotmail.com . I also will share with you more information about materials that have inspired my own writing journey.  So despite the fact that National Poetry Month is drawing to a close, we will Write On.

Prompt #30: The End… or Telling a story in Reverse

Our brains are uniquely wired to follow narratives.  We love stories.
But sometimes stories don’t unfold naturally, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Try to tell a story in reverse, with the last thing first.  For added depth, consider one of the poetry forms we explored earlier in the month.

Here’s one example I’ve been experimenting with:

Two Fathers and a Birthday

 His reaction was instant,
the flush sweeping up his face—
I image the tiny capillaries bursting from the force.
His hands balled fists,
the nails digging dried and dead cells from the centers of his palms.

Causal Relationship I
A kick, lashing out, not even from the hip, just the knee,
as if tapped by a reflex hammer,
sweeping the feet out from under the tiny body
that slammed into the floor,
the air compressed from lungs
so that the ragged cry was delayed.

Causal Relationship II
At four he should’ve known better,
but daddy pointed and smiled
and it seemed so funny just to hall back and hit that guy in the balls,
the guy who was teasing him,
and daddy didn’t like him anyway,
so that’s just what he did,
just hauled back like a pitcher on the mound,
let his fist go like a rock flying from a sling shot.

Causal Relationship III
Her chubby fists clutched at his ears, a tree-monkey,
and he had both hands full of her knees so that she wouldn’t go
tilting backwards.  She felt safe,
which was all that really mattered.
He teased the four-year-old who had picked
on his daughter, calling him four-year-old names like
pooper-scooper, and dookie-head.
He didn’t see the fist coming.

Causal Relationship IV
The sling-shot fist landed with precision,
was rewarded with a high-five,
while daddy with a tree-monkey struggled NOT to buckle,
his face a Dali.

I sat on the couch, considering another piece of cake,
mildly concerned that the 55 gallon fish tank
might be the real ‘victim’ in all of this if it didn’t survive,
and I couldn’t wait for the whole slew to get the
hell out of my house.

Prompt # 24: Letters You Never Send

Prompt #24: Letters You Never Send

Several years ago, I began my own little series of poems called “Letters I never send.”  This gave me an outlet to address people that irritated me or did me ‘wrong.’  Often, these letters were written to people who were relatively anonymous.

Here’s an example:

Dear Burger King Drive-thru Guy,

Thank you for not including
napkins.  I don’t know why I
even bother to ask for them.
I never need them when I drip
Whopper dribble on my lap,
you know, on my way to that
important meeting where I want
people to take me seriously.

You can also take on a much more serious tone, writing a letter to someone that you never intend to send because of all the complications that would result.  You could even take on the persona of another person, writing a letter you imagine they would send.