Tag Archives: editor

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  . . .

 

Comments on Rejection

I had a rejection email a couple of days ago, which was quite good as it had several notes with it. In general it gives me plenty of information about what the editor is thinking, though actual “improvements” are not quite so plentiful. I will act on the suggestions, as they took time and effort to produce, but like several other of my published pieces, I will also write the one i want to write and try again. Poems are, after all, only words and, as I have said before, I have plenty of words to write another one. It’s not like every poem published depletes the stock of words for the rest of us.

The three main points are that I should show, not tell. Last time I sent something to that magazine the comment was that I should have shown the house being built. There was, in the entire poem, no mention of a house being built, and in real life no house was built. The editor imagined it as a result of the poem. This is both good and bad, and after reading up I found that telling is sometimes necessary. It’s one of those things you find when you have contact with editors – inconsistency, grey areas and matters of opinion. Usually, I tell too much and gradually edit it out as I condense the poem. However, this can take months and I wrote the poem in question in three days. The problem wasn’t so much telling not showing – it was rushing things and  not editing properly. I’ll hold my hand up to that one.

Then there was the question of certain phrases and whether they were “poetic” or necessary. One of them was a metaphor that linked with other things in the poem, but that wasn’t noted. I’m obviously too subtle. Another was a phrase that most of you would have recognise a my speaking voice. I tend to write as I speak and I don’t always sound like Shelly or Frost. This irks me slightly a it’s like I’m being edited out of my own poems. It’s happened with others too, so this isn’t unusual.

Finally, the suggestions seem to have reduced the poem to a short paragraph with a tanka at each side. Whether this is by accident or not, I’m not clear. Over the years haibun have become shorter. I presume the same is true for tanka prose, though I admit I didn’t pay much attention to them until I started to write them. It seems to be a particularly American thing – a few lines of prose and a quick poem, usually with a tangential connection to the prose, referred to as “link and shift“. What they don’t tell you is that there are other ways of connecting the two elements.

I will stop there, lest I go on to explore other areas where editors may have blind spots dictated by fashion. I’m very close to 500 words now, which is a long post on a subject that is mainly of interest only to me.

My Orange Parker Pen

Rejection, Superstition, Vaccination

Editors seem to be busy at the moment. I have now had replies to all four of my January submissions. One, as you know, resulted in an acceptance, and one in a rejection with helpful editorial comments. The third is in limbo until the end of january, when the submission period ends, and the fourth has just come back with “helpful editorial comments”. I’ve put that in quotes as I am thinking of adopting it as an alternative to saying I’ve had a rejection.

I may, in future grade levels of response as “rejection”, “helpful editorial comment” and “acceptance”. This means that instead of being split equally between positive and negative results I can now claim that 66.6% of the results are positive, so call me an optimist and change my name to Pollyanna.

For any superstitious numerologists who may be reading, I admit that 66.6 might not be a good number to use. However, 66.6 isn’t actually the Number of the Beast, but 10% of it. Bearing in mind my retail background I can’t help thinking of it as the Discount of the Beast.

(Yes, before somebody corrects me, I do realise that other commentators believe the number is actually 616, but I’m traditional in matters of theology and superstition.)

In line with my new positive outlook I won’t even tell you what the situation is with the car. Let’s just say it’s hard to find anything upbeat or cheerful to say.

Some good news is that Julia has been given a projected vaccination date – early February. By March she should be reasonably well protected against COVID. This will be good. Meanwhile, I will stay at home, unvaccinated, and enjoy my holiday, which is also good.

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

 

 

Flowers and Fossils

Today I’m going to do pictures of flowers from yesterday’s visit to the garden with a few other things interspersed to show the nature of decay and the passing of time.

That’s sounding either depressed or arty, and I don’t know which is worse. The depression comes, amongst other things, from having to fill in a questionnaire for the hospital. I participate in a regular pain survey so they have sent me one about depression, anxiety and isolation. By the time I’d finished I felt considerably worse.

The artiness may come from being bitten by a vampiric art student, or from watching too much Grayson Perry on TV.

I’m glad to be back in the old editor. There’s a certain solidity to it, which I don’t get from the new one, and as I write I can see I have written 144 words.

I have now had two tries at loading a group of three photographs, but there is no sign of them. This seems to be an increasingly common problem. When I publish the post they will all suddenly appear.

Last night, whilst wading through reams of information on the new editor and associated rammel, I found a button that would have erased the entire site. I was very tempted. There is nothing in the writing that I am attached to, and as I struggled with the “improved” system it all felt like it was just too difficult to carry on. I may have to avoid finding that button again, because it’s very tempting.

Over the years I’ve followed links to the sites of people who have commented on my blog and found that they have no posts listed. I’m beginning to see why.

And once again the photos fail to appear. I hope they will turn up when I publish. And lo and behold, they did turn up. In the wrong place.

The devil’s toenail is nice to see, I haven’t seen one for years. It’s nice to have something on the blog that is older than me.

A Haibun about Editors

Editors

In my mind’s eye I see them sitting in their turrets, pale creatures with staring eyes, their unkempt hair laced with cobwebs.

Muttering, they read my submissions and slash at them with their editing quills, using ink mixed from the blood of kittens and the bitter tears of disappointed authors.

The rejection stings, but it does no lasting harm. Ten minutes later the urge to write a witty but insulting riposte has gone and the feeling of worthless failure has faded. In my mind’s eye I now see someone much more respectable and less likely to be cruel to kittens.

We need editors and as I mellow I begin to feel grateful for their efforts in running magazines. 

I start work on another submission, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that if I was to send a gift-wrapped unicorn it would turn into a donkey under the scrutiny of editors.

 

editor’s email

opened with hope

read with dismay

 

I don’t generally publish my own poetry and I will, later, write about my thoughts on self-publication, but I thought I’d give it a shot this time as this one is unlikely to be accepted. I like haibun – they are like writing a normal blog post and adding three short lines of poetry. You can add more, but I didn’t want to spoil you.

(Sorry about the double spacing in the haiku – I don’t seem to be able to get rid of it. Come to think of it, it’s actually a senryu not a haiku. Ah well…)

Back in the Game

You may recall me mentioning that I’d had a haiku accepted for publication two weeks ago.

You should do, I mentioned it enough.

I then sent a few off to another magazine. I thought several of them were better than the one that had been accepted, so I was quietly confident about getting another one accepted.

Unfortunately, I didn’t.

That happens, and alongside the quiet confidence I always try to keep a sense of reality. After all, if it was easy everyone would do it.

Anyway, not only did I get rejected, I was advised by the editor not to be downhearted because competion made it tough to get into the magazine.

I could live with that.

It was the next bit that twisted the knife. He advised me to read the magazine and write something suitable. Well, thanks to the internet I had been reading the magazine and I had thought that I’d submitted something suitable.

Apparantly not. Apparantly I had completely missed the point.

So I entered a deep depression and started an internal monologue telling me I was rubbish and should give up. This was possibly an over-reaction but we can’t all be well-balanced.

It was made worse by the realisation that I had set the bar high. Possibly too high. Stretching yourself is one thing, but arrogantly setting out to target the top magazines is embarrassing when it doesn’t work.

Rather than prolong the agony, I will just tell you that everything is fine now. I have read some articles about how to write better haiku, including some written by people who don’t know. Some of them even admit they don’t know. Some of them don’t admit it, but their haiku examples show it.

That’s the trouble with the internet – lots of words and lots of people who really should be disconnected.

I’ve actually written a couple of haiku that are probably better than the ones I had rejected, so it’s been a positive experience.

I’ve also had an email telling me I have just had two haibun accepted. Not just one, but two. And I had a pleasant note from the editor, which restored my faith in editors.

Looks like I may be on the right track after all.