Dealing With Rejection, Tip #342

Today I got a rejection notice from a journal to which I had submitted some poems.  I wasn’t too surprised.  For starters, rejection is the norm in poetry, especially early on.  If you can’t handle a lot of, “We’re sorry, but . . ” well, its time to start working with stray puppies or something. 

Furthermore, this particular journal is (or at least was) listed on Duotrope (a writer’s market resource) as one of the 25 Most Challenging Poetry Markets.   The journals on this list typically accept two percent or less of all the material submitted to them.  The odds weren’t with me.

Finally, I admit I didn’t send them my top drawer stuff, at least for the most part.  One was a blatantly new poem I knew better than to send out without further revision.  A couple were poems I had just solved some problems with, but which probably could have stood another few months of polishing.  The remaining two, while truly finished, were probably just not a good fit for this journal, and I should have known that from reading the samples I read online. 

I don’t feel bad, though.  Sometimes it’s good to shop yourself out to the best just to see if you stand where you think you do.  Never hurts.  And, in addition to being challenging, this was also one of the fastest responding markets.  They answered me in five days.  Which means my work isn’t tied up for months at one place and I can submit it elsewhere.

Incidentally, those poems which I feel are my best unpublished work are presently out, simultaneously, to two upper-tier journals, one of which I believe is predisposed to my sort of writing.  I’ll let you know how that goes. 

Today’s news prompted me to go back and examine my submission success ratio.  I learned that I have sent out nearly 50 poems to 20 markets for a total of 95 submitted poems.  (Obviously, some poems are submitted to more than one market in all that.)  I have had 11 published (not counting the one in my local newspaper).  That’s a success ratio of about 11.5 percent. 

I don’t know how that compares to other writers, but, as someone who has only been writing semi-seriously for 3.5 years and submitting for 2.5 years, I don’t think that’s too bad. 

Of course, I would like, at the very least, to hold steady at 10% or so, but after looking at my (declining) output over the last couple years, I think the key, for me anyway, to maintaining a more or less continuing publishing presence is to “show up for work” more.   

In light of that goal I therefore announce that I will be participating in this year’s National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo to those of us in the industry). 

This is the poets’ version of National Novel Writing Month, in which the would-be novelist seeks to put 1000 or more words down a day and finish the month with 50,000 words– which is a pretty good start on a novel I’d guess.  The point is volume.  Turning off your inner “quality censor”.  Just. Write. Something.  What you end up with will, doubtless, not be entirely usable, but you will likely find the seeds of something in there that will become . . . solid.  In other words, quantity is sometimes where quality hides out. 

So over the next thirty days I will write a poem a day.  Many will stink.  But I have no doubt that I’ll come away with a handful of gems-to-be.  Hope with me here, folks.  

By the way, I probably won’t post many of these poems here, but I may post some.  Keep an eye out.

Oh, and as for the 342.  Numbers containing the digit three are always funnier; they just are.  And if you don’t know the why behind the 42, you might as well just wrap a towel around your head.

3 comments to Dealing With Rejection, Tip #342

  • I sorta live vicariously through your poetry writing, you know. Not in the sense of “Man, I wish I was still writing poetry,” though. It’s more of the “I never would have made it anyway” sense. Sure, I still do spur-of-the-moment poem/songs here and there, mostly to an audience of cats, but I’m out, and watching this process confirms I made the right decision.

    Still, it happies me to see what you do with it, and I’m glad to see both the 11.5% and the number 342.

  • d4v34x

    So the David Allen dream is dead, then. Oh, well. Seriously though, I may make you the executor of my literary estate when I pass.

  • […] that you’d like to know that I have so far made good on my National Poetry Writing Month commitment.  Of course, we’re only two days in . . .    At any rate, I’ve been considering I […]

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