Tag Archives: acceptance

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Back to Normal

Things are about back to normal now. I am still sticking to one sandwich for lunch and work seems OK, though I’m still having difficulty remembering where things are. This isn’t helped by the fact that the owner decided to “tidy up” while we were all off (he spent some of his isolation time working in the shop), Why he thinks that moving stock into random places without telling anybody is an improvement, I do not know. However, it’s his time he’s wasting, not mine.

My legs are still a bit weak after weeks of enforced rest but I am making progress on that.

I struggled to submit anything in September, but did manage a few things (mainly things that were already written and just needed tidying). I have three poems in Cattails this month – pages 86, 89 and 133 if you fancy a look.

I have also had acceptances from three other magazines (though only one will be available online) and will no doubt mention it again when it is published.

At one point, when I was really struggling to string words together, I actually thought I’d run to the end and would never write again. Fortunately that passed off after a week, as I don’t know what I’d do to replace it. At the moment I’m not writing much because I mainly work, eat, watch TV and go to bed early. I’m still sleeping off the Covid.

It is probably time to prepare a plan to make sure I spend my time wisely. However, for now I will just sleep.

 

 

A Worse Thing than Being Accepted

I didn’t realise there was anything worse than being accepted, until yesterday.

I’ve just had an acceptance and I am very annoyed. In fact at one point I was filled with rage. I sent in three haibun, each one elegantly and interestingly crafted and probably some of the best work I have ever done. I also sent in seven tanka to make the numbers up and see how the tanka are going. I’ve only just started writing them and have had one accepted, so they seem to be hitting the mark. However, they are just lightweight 5 line poems compared to the more serious business of writing haibun. They are also, let’s face it, a lot easier than haiku – two extra lines and fewer rules make for a more relaxed writing experience.

You can see where this is heading already, can’t you?

None of the haibun were required and one of the tanka was accepted. My first reaction was disbelief, then, as read the email again (because I’d clearly missed something first time) extreme annoyance.  I’d just spent the best part of a year on the haibun, editing, cutting, polishing and letting them mature (all the stuff you are supposed to do), and they were tossed to one side in favour of something that took me five minutes.

However, after sleep and breakfast I’m looking on it as just one more manifestation of the mystery of interaction with editors. I will put it down to experience, use it for the basis of a blog post and, eventually use it in  a magazine article about rejection. But most of all I will look at my work critically and try to work out why it took a year to produce a bad haibun. I used to be able to that in twenty minutes. I’m getting slower  . . .

 

Me and Roger McGough

I’ll go back a couple of days for this one.  I had an email yesterday. As is customary I have had three haibun rejected by the editor who always rejects me.  He thinks there were some interesting points but they aren’t quite there yet. He has been thinking that for around two years. I have submitted to him half a dozen times and have failed to find favour every time.  Two years of being “not quite there yet” seems like a long time – in that time I have had haibun published in six other journals.

I don’t mean I should be accepted very time I submit, or that the rejecting editor is wrong. Even the magazines that generally accept me don’t do so without the odd rejection, and once in a while I get a hard time from one of the editors demanding changes I don’t always want to make. When that happens, I get annoyed with myself for not writing to a high enough standard. That’s not difficult to cope with.

However, when you are consistently turned down by one editor you reach a point when you have to wonder if it’s worth the effort, and whether he is looking for something I can’t produce.  I’ll probably try a few more times, because each rejection is one more for the year’s list. I’m supposed to be aiming for 100 rejections and have only made 22 submissions so far this year. I’ve been a bit lazy recently, so need to up my game. It doesn’t do me any harm to get a few rejections because it does make me sharpen up, the only proviso is that I want to send stuff out that has a chance of success, and that takes time. Recently it has been taking longer than usual.

Anyway, that’s a rejection, and the lessons to be learned from it. I will now go back by another day.

My copy of Acumen arrived. I has two of my poems in it. They were shortlisted in February and accepted in March, so it’s been a while. I have become so used to the rapid internet world of most haibun magazines that this seems a long time. It’s the 100th edition and is bigger than usual, and is very glossy. To say I was pleased with myself would be an understatement.

When I opened it I found there were quite a few famous poets in there, Mimi Khalvati was on the opening page and Roger McGough was about half-way through. I’m right at the back, but it doesn’t matter, I’m still in a magazine with some famous poets. I’ve been in magazines with some notable haibun writers too, but none of them as famous as Roger McGough.

It took a while for me to calm down after that, which is why the Saturday rejection bounced off me, and why I’ve had to wait until now to write about it. It’s probably very un-Zen to be too excited about this sort of thing, so I also had to watch out I didn’t upset any passing haiku practitioners with my unseemly showing off.

Plans and Haiku

Despite the first part of the day consisting of a mathematically implausible three halves, I did have a plan for the next bit of the day, which I’m going to describe as “bit” because it saves me having to be accurate.

The plan was to go home, write, wash up and make stew for tea. It also included, after my talk with the doctor, eating eggs for lunch and not sleeping in front of daytime TV whilst watching quiz with my lunch. Next time, I’m going to eat lunch at the computer.

It’s has all come to pass, apart from the not sleeping bit, but instead of being 5 o’clock, as planned, it is seven o’clock. As days off go, it has been OK, but not hugely productive. However, I have had another acceptance, this time from Wales Haiku Journal. It will be published in the next two weeks and is a haiku of eleven words. It almost feels like cheating to claim I’m having a poem published when it’s only 11 words long, but as Mark Twain said:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Brevity can be tricky.

I now have a nine rejected haiku which can be sent out again. Just because they have been rejected doesn’t mean they are bad. I’ve shown that before, with many pieces. As it is, I have ten ready to go to another magazine and if everything goes as it normally does, and they take one, as they often do, I will have 18 haiku looking for a home. It’s amazing how they mount up. That’s how it goes – one day you have nothing, next day you have too many. It’s a shame that the same doesn’t apply to £10 notes.

I’m off to eat stew now, I’ll see you all tomorrow.

The haiku features a robin, so that’s the reason for the picture.

Punctures, Poetry and Police Procedurals

Sorry, after the events of the day, which included quite a lot of activity in the shop, I went home, had a puncture, called Green Flag to change the wheel (after the debacle of a few years ago) and embarked on my usual routine of wasting time. I was napping by midnight, when I should have been blogging and am, as usual, slightly ashamed of myself. However, I will get over it. In fact, I have. When I checked my emails this morning I find I have had two poems accepted by the Frogmore Papers.

Contrast this with yesterday. Yesterday I told you about a magazine that said it would “aim to” get back to me in three months. The Frogmore Papers got back to me in fourteen days. They have been about for a while and get plenty of submissions (“over 350” this time, according to the note) so it must be hard work. I’m going to modify my words of yesterday slightly – I’m not developing an artistic temperament, I’m developing a loyalty to people who work hard and make things easy for me.

Later this morning I’m off for a new tyre – by the time I’d got off the ring road to a quiet place to change a tyre it was beyond repair. It didn’t have a lot of life left in it, so this isn’t too bad, not like the time I ruined a brand new tyre by having to run with it flat for half a mile until I could get off a busy main road.

In fact, by the magic of modern technology, I have been to have my tyre replaced, sitting outside in the sun reading a crime novel and keeping my social distance. I’m back on tartan noir. You can’t escape it these days. The books are OK, but it’s a silly name. Two languages and black tartan? Really?

Time to make lunch now, then I may try a spot of poetry and some literary criticism. Or quizzes and a nap. The course of the afternoon has not yet been decided.

Gannets

I thought I’d give you Gannets today – from Bempton Cliffs in May 2017, when the weather was better, and we were allowed to travel.

It also ties in with the tartan noir, as they have quite a lot of Gannets in Scotland, as Tootlepedal’s holidays over the years have demonstrated.

Resisting Writing on Politics

Yesterday I received my copy of Presence. It’s always nice to appear in print. However, because it’s in print you will have to wait a bit until I can post it. It’s not that interesting anyway, so you aren’t missing much. I have to say that I find most haiku, even good ones, to be wearing in quantity.

Today I tried to write about my frustration at the way the world is going, but I don’t really have it in me to be political, so it didn’t go well and I ended up with nothing to show for several hours of work.

Then I had an email about an article I had originally submitted back in  November. I’d already agreed to make the alterations the editor wanted a couple of months ago and was wondering what the hold-up was when I got an apologetic email telling me he didn’t think it was the right fit and couldn’t use it. I’d already resigned myself to this, so I’m frustrated rather than downhearted. It is, after all, only words. I have an unlimited supply to draw on and am unlikely to run short.

After that I was able to watch a riot in Bristol, as protestors besieged a police station, set fire to vehicles, threw fireworks and put at least two policemen in hospital. The protest? It was about the new bill going through Parliament, the one about giving the police more powers to deal with demonstrations. My current thinking is that this is not the best way to ensure you have public support for your concerns.

And on that note I will leave it before I begin to get political.

 

Lightening Bolts, Books and Bragging

Grocery day today. We had two phone calls, each giving us an updated delivery time (by “updated” I mean “later” of course).

Meanwhile, It is cold and wet and windy. The only good thing about the weather is that it isn’t as windy as yesterday and that there was only one clap of thunder. It was clearly trying out all sorts of things and decided that a thunderstorm was surplus to requirements.

I received a book through the post yesterday – Getting Published in UK Poetry Magazines by Robin Houghton. It cost £6 fo a 34 page pamphlet of information I already had, There were a couple of snippets I didn’t know, but much of he information is available online. The main thing I got was a lesson in checking how big something is before ordering it. It won’t break me, and if it encourages a fellow poet I suppose it’s worth the money.

One thing I did notice was mention of  humblebragging. It was not only a new word, but a new concept. It seems similar to name-dropping.The author seems very much against it, but doesn’t really explain it that well. I had to look it up. I may have appeared to be guilty of this in the past but I assure you, I don’t mean to.

When I say I fear being uncovered as a fraud who got lucky I am telling the truth. It’s gradually sinking in that I am probably OK as a writer, as I’m getting regular acceptances and editors talk to me these days. Well, some of them do. However, I do still worry that one day it will all come to an end.

And, to end (with a masterful humblebrag) my target of 100 rejections has moved further away as I had two acceptances yesterday.I will now look suitably modest and sidle away as the smug alarm starts to sound…

 

 

The Year Moves On

Today was another beautiful day, though somewhat marred by having to sit in the back room of the shop. Tomorrow, if it is similarly beautiful, I will probably spend indoors hiding from people. It is a very trying time but I don’t intend becoming ill just as we get in sight of a solution.

The birds are certainly playing their part – they were singing before dawn and wee still singing at dusk.

My Blood test results came back. I am hovering just within the permitted range – my reward is a three week rest before the next ritual puncturing. Julia posted her test kit today, so if things go as smoothly as last time we should have  a result tomorrow.

On the poetry front, things are going pretty much as you would expect. A set of haiku to one magazine were returned, as has become traditional. I’m not sure which one of us will break first. In fact I’m not sure if one of us will break before Death takes us. I don’t give up easily and she clearly doesn’t like my submissions.

Another one returned my attempts too, but it was a regular journal with a guest editor. I have  never managed to have anything accepted when they have a guest editor.

On a more positive note, Obsessed with Pipework had one of my poems this issue. They aren’t on-line so I can’t direct you to it.

The Haibun Journal has accepted a haibun for next month’s issue. Not online, so again there won’t be a link. I like the Haibun Journal – a well-produced old-fashioned sort of journal, which |I could imagine reading whilst wearing a smoking jacket in my Library.

To be fair, I like all journals that publish me, and quite a few that don’t.

The biggest news is that I’ve been shortlisted by Acumen.  They have  a two stage policy – Normally they turn me down and tell me competition is fierce, as they only publish about 1% of submissions. This time I’ve made it onto the list to be considered as part of the 1%. I probably won’t progress but it’s a step up from a simple rejection, and it’s actually more exciting than being published by a lot of other magazines.

For a week or two I can dream of publication in a prestigious magazine, but after that it will be down to earth with  a bang.

And on that note, it is time to go and drink tea in front of the Tv. It’s a hard life being a poet…

 

For a picture – snowdrops from 2018.

 

Luck and Persistence

Do you remember the post I did a while ago with the haibun about the elderly lady shopping for vodka? It was called “Murder your Darlings”, which is what I did,. Once I published it on the blog it was no longer of interest to most haibun magazines as they require previously unpublished work.

It hadn’t gained acceptance after several tries so I put it on the blog because I liked it and wondered if this was why no editor did. It’s standard wisdom in writing circles that if you like something too much it is probably pretentious and rubbish.

Do you also remember a post recently called  “Thoughts on Poetry and Bacon?” It’s not one of my more high-brow titles. That was the one where I talked about the poet working like a car breaker to salvage useful bits for future work.

We now cut to last Saturday, when, as I told you, I had an acceptance. I think I only told you about it yesterday because I left it a few days to damp down the smugness. The Saturday acceptance was actually for three poems from a batch of four, and they weren’t Japanese style poems, they were of the style I refer to as “ordinary poems”. One (“D H Lawrence Wonders What’s for his Tea”) is scheduled for next month, the other two for May. One of the May poems is about an elderly lady buying vodka in the supermarket (sound familiar?). I re-used the character and the incident, recast it as free verse and lost the haiku.

The piece that wasn’t accepted was a haibun about Philip Larkin. I always try to send a haibun out to ordinary poetry magazines just in case they are looking for something unusual. They always send it back. To be fair – they also send all the other poems back too.

On Sunday I was looking for bits that might interest Failed Haiku and looked at the Larkin haibun. I’d just been reading Larkin’s Annus Mirabilis and a haiku came to me. It was much better than the one in the returned haibun. I also took a severe line with re-editing and cut a third of it out. This was a surprise as I had thought I had pruned it as much as possible before sending it out last time.

To cut a long story short, they accepted a senryu and the haibun. The moral of this?

Probably that a good poem will always find a home, you just have to find the right form and the right editor. Or possibly that luck and persistence will beat talent every time

The Day Declines and I Quote Kipling

It was all going too well. I made lunch (which included Ryvita crispbreads instead of ordinary bread), I washed up and I cooked the evening mal ready for when Julia returns. It’s panhaggerty, though I’m not going to melt the cheese on top – too much fat, too many calories….

This proved to be the high point of the day.

First, as I opened the fridge door a pyrex plate slid out and smashed on the floor. There were two cold sausages on it, so I invoked the ten second rule and threw them into a pan of hot fat to kill any bacteria from the floor. That meant I had to have  a sausage sandwich. So, smashed plate, glass all over the place and my diet gone for a Burton.

As I made the sausage sandwich  I looked down on the work surface and realised that I’d left the second layer of bacon out of the panhaggerty. I had to prod it down without disturbing the layers too much. Then, forgetting that I was only wearing socks, I walked across the badly swept area where the plate had smashed. Fortunately the bits I found were only small and they didn’t do any damage, just gave me a bit of a surprise.

Next, it was over to check emails as I ate the sandwich. Part of the sausage fell out o0nto the carpet. I really have been pushing the ten second rule to its limit.

I had two replies from editors. I always think that a quick reply indicates a rejection so I ate the sandwich first. No point in spoiling a good sandwich. The first on was an acceptance, though I sent off ten haiku and three haibun and only had one haiku accepted. It’s not great, but as I spent two years trying to get into the magazine, I’m happy to have had anything accepted at all.

The second one was from my nemesis, the editor who has never accepted anything I’ve ever sent him at either of the magazines he’s been editing when I’ve tried. In a way it’s a comfort to know that in a n ever changing Covid epidemic he still won’t accept any of my work. He did send a few pointers, which is always useful, and always a good sign when an editor takes the time to do it.

The only problem is that I left room for the reader to interpret, as we are advised to do, and he seems to have interpreted it in a way that I didn’t intend. Not quite sure what this means, but I’m left with the impression that my lack of clarity means I’m an even worse writer than mere rejection suggests. I spent several downcast minutes wondering whether to laugh or cry. Then I started laughing and made a cup of tea.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

Kipling might be old-fashioned and politically suspect, but he can still hit the nail on the head when it counts.