Tag Archives: editors

Some Haibun News

I’m using the header picture of the stones to warn you I’m going to be talking poetry, so continue with care if you are not the poetic type.

I submitted a couple of haibun to a magazine in the early hours of this morning, and just nine hours later I had the rejection. It was hardly a surprise. When I saw the answer was back so soon I realised it wasn’t going to be good news. Editors don’t generally rush to acceptance, they like to take their time. A case in point is a piece I currently have out – it took eight weeks to get a reply, which asked me to make alterations. I made the alterations and I’ve now been waiting nearly a month for a decision. Sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical.

Would I rather have an acceptance taking 12 weeks or a rejection taking just nine hours? It’s a tricky question. I don’t really like waiting 12 weeks, but I’m not keen on being rejected either. (I have to add that I’ve waited a lot longer than 12 weeks in the past, so it’s not a terrible length of time. However, haibun magazines in the 21st century seem to be able to get answers out a lot quicker these days).

I’m working on the netbook at the moment whilst watching Judge Dredd (the Stallone version, which I always enjoy) so I can’t access my list of submissions – I’ll report on the numbers later, but I’m in a bit of a slump at the moment.

It is therefore pleasant to tell you that The Haibun Journal is out. It’s a print publication from Ireland and much more relaxing to read than a web page. Of course, with postage costing a small fortune from the Republic of Ireland, it’s a lot more expensive than a web page, but you can’t have everything. I’m on page 59. Unfortunately I can’t provide a link, and it’s not really etiquette to reproduce haibun so soon after publication, so you’ll have to wait a bit.

I am in the magazine with three people who, in their editorial capacities, have recently rejected work from me. I can’t help feeling that there’s an element of irony in this.

And with that thought, I’m off. I clearly have to do more reading in my quest for the perfect haibun.

Update: This currently leaves me with 4 acceptances, six rejections and two still waiting – not as good as it was, but it could be a lot worse. Last year was five from eight and the year before that was about four from eight, but I didn’t keep a proper record. 

Talent, Resilence & Patience

There are three things you need for success in life, whether you are talking about writing (as I do) or anything else.

(By the way, I’m about to invent a new form of poem, so stay alert till the end.)

Despite the title, talent isn’t one of them. Research has shown that if you divide a group of children into two lots and praise one for their talent and the other for their hard work the results of one group will gradually decline and the other will increase.

The problem with praising someone for their talent is that they begin to believe that their talent will run out, where the other group starts to believe that the harder they work, the better they will become. This seems to be borne out by the actual results.

It is all laid out in a book called Bounce by Matthew Syed. Reading the review, as I did whilst looking for a link, it looks like there’s a lot more in there too – I really should read it again.

Talent can, to be honest, be replaced by practice and work rate. As long as you have a basic grasp of what makes a good bit of work in your field, you can work on improving the quality of your work. If you write a lot and submit enough pieces of work, success will follow. Once you have some success, more will follow. It’s like Roger Bannister and the four minute mile – once he broke the four minute barrier others followed. Barriers are mainly psychological, and once broken can be broken again and again.

Resilience, I have covered several times. Rejection is merely  the opinion of an editor at a certain point in time, and does not constitute a damning judgement on you or your work. If several editors share the same view it still isn’t that bad, just take it as a hint that you need to alter a few things.

As an aside – write haibun. I have always felt fortunate that a number of editors have taken the time to give me pointers about my haibun, which isn’t something that happens in a lot of fields. It seems to be a field where we are blessed with a group of fine editors. When I was a more traditional poet I rarely met with helpful comments – it was a case of yes or no, mostly no, and no clue as to what needed altering.

Stone on the Floor

I thought I’d put the poetic rocks half way down as it isn’t really a poetry post.

Finally, patience. No editor of a small poetry publication is in it hoping for fame and fortune. They are often overworked, under appreciated and blamed for the varied failings of authors. Some people even write sarcastic haibun about them. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

If you are a guest editor, as many are, the under-appreciation must be even greater.

However, it doesn’t stop me getting twitchy when they take a long time over their answer. I’m waiting for an answer from a magazine that says it may take 6-8 weeks to answer during busy periods. IT’s had the submission for 54 days now, which is just two days short of eight weeks, and I’m becoming twitchy. Another, with a target of two weeks, has had my submission for sixteen days. Two weeks is an excellent response time, so I’m not complaining, but I’d love an answer.

You just have to sit back and wait. It’s difficult not to be impatient, but just think, if it was you, would you appreciate impatience. I think not.I keep telling myself we are lucky to have people to do these jobs for us. If you left me in charge of a magazine it would soon degenerate into confusion and Limericks.

There was an old poet called Quercus,
whose efforts, often, would irk us.
He loved to declaim,
and would often exclaim
that he’d much rather work in a circus.

And that is my new form of poetry. You have prose and haiku, which are haibun, and prose and tanka, which are called tanka prose. Well this – prose followed by a Limerick, is a Limmerbun.  I add the double m to make sure it is pronounced correctly. Unlike the other two, a Limmerbun can be utter nonsense.

My Orange Parker Pen

I’m still hoping for some freebies from Parker. They are obviously not reading this blog.

Edited next day to tidy up a typo, remove a repetition and tinker with the Limerick.

Rejection!

The title isn’t quite accurate, but headlines often aren’t. However, there is an element of truth in it, as you will see if you persist.

Despite me rushing to finish last night’s post by midnight, my days don’t really run from midnight to midnight and I often work an hour or so into the night while it is quiet. This is particularly the case at weekends when I can get up later to compensate.

As an example, I did some decluttering this morning then set my alarm to give myself just over an hour at the computer before warming up the soup for lunch. Julia decided this would be a good time to start work on reorganising the kitchen so my writing efforts are now accompanied by the clatter of various kitchen implements (mainly noisy ones) as she composes a symphony for baking trays and raised voices.

I did think of inserting a witty quote on marriage here, but couldn’t find one. I suspect all the wittiest quotes are written by people who aren’t married. The ones who are married just nod and keep their heads down, which is why they are still married.

I’m playing WP Roulette here – if she reads this I’m in trouble. If not I will live to moan another day.

That’s why I work into the early hours.

And that was why, about half an hour after posting I decided to look at one of the magazines that had some submissions from me five weeks ago. I was surprised, and a little put out, to find that they had published the next issue. I don’t mind rejection too much, because it’s part of writing, but I don’t really like being ignored.

Anyway, it is what it is. I read a few of the haibun and decided to see when the next submission window opened. While I did that I noticed a note saying that if you don’t get an acknowledgement within in two days you should get in touch. It was a lot longer than two days, but I double checked, found I definitely hadn’t had one and decided to take action.

Two Cyclists

As recommended in many articles on writing I dropped the the editor a short polite note to check if they had received anything from me and checking the best way to submit next time round.

The marvels of email and the time difference between the UK and USA meant I had a reply within half an hour. It seems the automated submission form is suspected of discarding a number of submissions and is now out of favour.

Ah well!

When it comes down to it I checked the two pieces I’d submitted and decided they weren’t all that good anyway. Internet oblivion is probably the best place for them. Anyway, even if they had been brilliant you can’t turn back time, despite Cher’s singing and the services of a good plastic surgeon.

As time goes on I’m finding that I have more and more sympathy for editors. It can’t be easy at the best of times, particularly when you see the number of submissions some of them get, and when the technology turns against you it must be hellish.

It’s a big day tomorrow – three submission windows open and I have submissions prepared for each one.

The game’s afoot, as Holmes said, though when I check the quote I find that Henry V said it first. Tricky things, quotes.

 

 

A Post I didn’t mean to write

The day dawned fair, and far too early. I wanted to turn over and have a lie in as it’s my day off and we weren’t going out but Julia had exacted  a promise from me the night before and so I had to get up and take her to breakfast before dropping her off for her first day of jury service.

I am a man of my word.

That meant I was able to get to the jewellers in time for a good two hours of moaning about the state of business before returning home to spend a couple of hours moaning about politics and sport with Number One Son. During this time he heated up last night’s beef rendang for lunch. I am eating well at the moment.

I also had an email to deal with this afternoon. My luck is really out as far as poetry editors is concerned as I just had another rejection. I thought the 3 haibun were all reasonable and had a good chance of success, but it appears I was wrong.

The rejection was accompanied by some notes, which was handy as it’s always nice (though rare) to get feedback. Sometimes it’s probably better to get feedback than it is to get accepted.

I don’t know if any of you have ever noticed this, but I often feel that once you have either posted your work, or hit the send button, it starts to deteriorate.

Even if it is accepted, the polished gem you sent never looks as good when it is printed. And when it is returned it looks even worse. I looked at what was sent back today and looked at the notes and wondered why I’d sent it. The first sentence of the first submission was just so glaringly wrong, yet two weeks ago it had seemed brilliant.

So, apart from writing better, I also have to start looking at everything with a much more critical eye.

Anyway, I had the afternoon off, so I set to work with the suggested improvements and have resubmitted them. Fingers crossed.

This wasn’t the post I meant to write, but it was what emerged on the paper as I started writing. I am not always master of my own keyboard. That, of course, means I have no suitable picture so I’m reusing the Dylan Thomas £5 coin photo. It’s a tenuous poetry connection, but it’s the best I can do. As I read the post where it originally appeared I see this is the second time I’ve used it as a random space filler.

Here’s more information about the coin if you want it -it is quite interesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dylan Thomas Alderney £5 coin

Happiness and Haibun

 

I’ve just had a rejection letter from an editor.

My current levels of happiness are such that I have offered him my sincere thanks for his feedback and have already rewritten one of the pieces to send elsewhere later this week.

I am seriously worried about my levels of positivity.

It’s not natural, it’s not me and I know it will all end in tears. I’m wondering if I’m associating with too many Americans. What with Pollyanna and a can-do attitude you lot ought to be quarantined.

I am, of course, a little bit annoyed at the rejection because I’ve clearly sent out sub-standard work and I need to tighten up on it. Fortunately the feedback I was given made the rewrite on one of them quite easy. That will be going to an editor who has never accepted anything from me before. It is very likely to be rejected again, because I don’t think the two of us are on the same wavelength, but you never know…

I’ve actually looked back on one or two posts that mention rejection and seem to have taken it in my stride. However, there was one double rejection that I had, which did stop me in my tracks for a few weeks. I can’t find any mention of it in the blog and may have kept it to myself. That’s how you look successful – talk about the acceptances and gloss over the rejections.

 

I have had, if I remember rightly, I’ve had nine acceptances and six rejections in the 12 months since I started sending things out. It’s all written down but it’s in another room and I’m lazy. As I started off with three rejections the average isn’t looking too bad.

In some ways, acceptance is worse than rejection. Every time I’m accepted I worry about if I’ll ever manage it again, or if editors will ever realise I actually don’t have a clue about what I’m doing.

The key to a good haibun is, it seems, a good haiku, which should be the first thing you write. Well, that’s what a number of well-respected people have said on more than one occasion. It makes sense. You should not, they add, start writing haibun until you are having haiku accepted regularly by reputable journals.

If I’d known that in the beginning I’d never have written haibun. In truth, I started writing them because my haiku are rubbish and I was hoping to conceal this by hiding them in a chunk of prose.

My writing method is to write the prose and then wait, sometimes for weeks, until a thought for the haibun presents itself. If I make a half-decent attempt the editor often suggests improvements, which I immediately agree to.

It may not be the classic method but it seems to work.

 

 

Good News and Loose Ends

I had some good news yesterday.

You may recall from a previous post that I’ve been worrying about various things. I’ve also noted a few loose ends – in the Bakewell post I said I’d explain why I was using the old camera, but I didn’t.

That’s easy – the socket on the new camera is getting a bit slack and it can be tricky  when downloading by plugging it directly into the computer. As the card reader on my laptop doesn’t work, and there is no card reader on my work computer I tried the old camera as I may start using it for work. Plug-in card readers always seem to fall apart so I have stopped buying them.

Another loose end – Number One Son and the cancelled trip to Innsbruck. Easy Jet are going to refund him for the flight and the Air BnB people have given him a 100% refund as they sympathised with his situation. That only leaves the flight home (Ryan Air) and the loss of the holiday but as he says – the flight home is a small price to pay and though he did miss the holiday he fitted in a day trip to Brighton and was amazed by the kindness of the Air BnB hosts, so it’s all good.

One thing I was worried about, after a couple of acceptances, was that I wouldn’t be able to live up to that standard again. As a result I’ve been messing around with haibun instead of finishing them, and feeling they weren’t good enough to send. I also missed the chance of a few submissions because I didn’t think I had anything good enough to send.

In some ways, having things accepted has been worse for my confidence than having things rejected.

Anyway, I finally got fed up with my pathetically defeatist attitude and sent three more submissions off on Christmas Eve. During the afternoon of Christmas Day I was surprised to see I had a reply, which seemed very quick, very dedicated and, let’s be honest, was bound to be a rejection because acceptances take longer than that.

At least I had the monkey off my back.

However, I was wrong and I’ve just had another acceptance. I’ve also been given advice. This is good, as editors are busy people and everyone agrees that getting feedback is a good sign.

As a result I’m feeling far too pleased with myself. I really need to learn how to cope with acceptance a little better. I also need to alter that haibun I wrote about editors.

I also need to review the advice I gave about people boasting in Christmas Letters as I now find I’m not quite sure of the boundary between reporting success and boasting.

Haiku Challenge – Day 27 – Ups and Downs

I was going to post a couple of days ago when it was day 25. This would have been quarter of the way through, but I was diverted and didn’t get on with it.

However, if I had updated at that time I wouldn’t have been able to include details of my latest rejection, as mentioned yesterday. Nor would I have been able to contrast reality with my comment in the previous report. I said:

“However, I’m not going to make any boastful claims just now. I’m going to send some of the new haiku off over the next few weeks and see if any editors like them.”

It’s fortunate that I didn’t make any boastful claims, as I did send some off to an editor, and the editor returned them. It’s difficult to tell, but I suspect this indicates my haiku writing hasn’t improved as much as I thought.

Set against that, there is the Autumn edition of Wales Haiku Journal. Near the bottom of the page is my first published haiku. It’s under the name of Simon Wilson rather than Quercus, but it is me. If I was going to lie about it I’d have chosen a better one…