Be Careful What You Wish For

Only one day after saying I was waiting impatiently for news from two editors, one got back to me.

Not only did they get back to me, but they told me they were going to pass on the haibun which, it seems, lack depth, as the haiku fail to take the reader on a step beyond the prose.

This is slightly depressing as I was just beginning to think I was getting the hang of things. About a year ago I had several haibun returned as the haiku were felt to be a step to far away from the prose and were not related enough.

Rejection I can cope with. It is, as I recently said, simply an indication that one particular editor, at this time, doesn’t think that the work is right for publication. It isn’t personal and it isn’t necessarily an opinion shared by other editors.

What does concern me a little with this rejection is that the specific objection is one that I thought I’d addressed. It’s not about my ability to write, it’s about my judgement of what is good and what is bad. I actually thought I was getting better and was moderately happy with them. (I am never fully happy with any submissions, even when they are published, I even went over yesterdays Limmerbun to alter a line this afternoon).

I have just been and looked at about twenty haibun in a couple of magazines. About a third of them had haiku attached which were stronger than mine. Another third featured haiku much the same as mine. The final third featured haiku which bore little relationship to anything that had gone on in the prose – my previous problem. This, of course, is just my opinion, and as we have just seen, my opinion may not be correct. I would however suggest that on another day, with another editor and a different magazine, these haibun could have been accepted,

This all goes to show that there is no good and bad in haibun, just things that gain approval and things that don’t. Today, I didn’t. Watch, learn, move on. I will tweak them over the next few days. It’s not so much improving them as moving them more into the area where they are likely to be accepted for publication. Or does that sound too cynical?

I will leave you with these wise words from one of our great, but unappreciated, philosophers.

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh



20 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For

  1. jodierichelle

    Keep up with your efforts & learn from the comments that make sense. Don’t worry too much about the comments that don’t make sense. Perhaps in a year those comments will make sense, or perhaps that very poem will have been published by someone smarter.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      🙂 Or I might send it to somebody with lower standards.

      All feedback is useful in the end, even if I don’t always understand it immediately. I will eventually improve.

  2. Val

    Do you send them out straight after you’ve finished writing them? Try to put them away for a few weeks or months, then take them out and look at them again. If they still look all right to you, then send them out. That’s the best way to get a sense of perspective on writing.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Of my three recent successes one was only a week or so old as it was written to conform to a format that was only announced days before submissions opened. The others were both about eight months old (the last time I felt enthused to write haibun). One had been unsuccessfully submitted three times before, one had not been out as I wasn’t quite satisfied.

      Six of the eight pieces that have been rejected have been newer, about four to six weeks, though they had all been edited several times.

      I am generally keeping them longer than I used to do, but probably not long enough. In the case of some of them it is clear that no matter how long I keep them they will never make the grade, though in some cases they do find a home even after several rejections.

      As time is one of the things I can control in this case it makes sense to go slower.

  3. derrickjknight

    An excellent quotation. The problem with any art form is that ti always depends on an unquantifiable subjective judgement. If it depended on provable science or sums you and I wouldn’t be doing it.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Into each life some rain must fall, as Longfellow said, though, being a Scot, you may have noticed this.Editors are there to guard serious poetry against people who write limericks…


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