Back to normal stuff for now.
The poetry results for January are in. I submitted four selections to magazines and three to competitions. The competition entries will take ages yet and will probably disappear without trace. However, I just had my fourth acceptance out of the four sent to magazines for January. That hides a number of things, including that today’s acceptance is one haiku selected from ten, and I seriously believe that even then the editor just takes one to encourage me rather than because they are any good.
The unvarnished figures are 25 submitted – four accepted. It’s not quite the same as four out of four when you look at it like that.
Looking on the bright side, I have 21 poems which are now available to go out again. It seems a shame to waste the effort, particularly as experience shows that a number of the rejects aren’t that far off being acceptable. You sometimes have to accept that there is only so much space in a magazine and you can’t have more than your fair share. Sometimes I’ve had two or three accepted by an editor, which is good. But when it happens I always feel that I have taken a slot someone else might have been happy to have.
When I see magazines that have published four or five pieces from one writer, as sometimes happens, I actually feel resentful at times. Even if they are five good pieces I often wonder if the space could have been used better. If a poet is good, they don’t need the validation of multiple acceptances, but there might be someone who is struggling and would love to get just one piece published. That one piece might make the difference between continuing or giving up.
This is similar to the two different approaches to junior sports. Are you there to spread healthy exercise, teamwork and an appreciation of effort? Or are you there to pick out the naturally talented kids and push them on to greater things (including greater reflected glory for the coaches?). I’ve seen both. I’ve seen coaches who have managed to combine both approaches. I’ve also seen rabid parents and over-ambitious coaches who have spoiled sport for both their kids and the children of others.
I’ve just been reading some words from an editor, who says that they feel they are there to reflect the breadth of writing from their readership, rather than to select writing that conforms to the narrow vision of the editor. Not every editor takes that view, and I feel that can be a problem at times. I’m not telling editors what to do, as they all give a lot of time up to do the job, but I do wonder which approach serves the writing community better.