Tag Archives: rejection

Reading, writing, wittering on…

This is a post I wrote this morning. I arrived at work slightly earlier than usual and found there were only two parcels to pack, so that was soon done. I don’t access WP from the work computer, as I don’t want to blur too many lines, but I do sometimes check my emails, so I emailed this to myself.

After posting last night, I spent some time looking at poetry to see what I could do to improve. First stop was  a magazine that usually rejects my work. The editor does give me advice from time to time, which only increases my confusion. I don’t always understand what they say to me, and I definitely don’t understand why things identified as faults in my work are acceptable in the work of others. I found several examples and spent half an hour studying them for clues as to what makes them publishable when I am not. I looked at all sorts of things apart from the writing and the content, including subject, voice and style, and I couldn’t se what the successful pieces had that I didn’t. I’ll have a go in a few months and see what I can see.

Better informed, but mystified, I moved on. If I keep seeking, I am sure I will find something to explain it, and even if I don’t , I am bound to learn something and improve, simply by looking at things in greater detail.

It’s that pond again. The haibun that it inspired was eventually split in two. One half was published. The second half formed the basis of another haibun I am still working on.

I found two by someone from the UK and decided to look him up. I do that sometimes. He writes in several forms and has published nearly a thousand pieces in 20 years. He belongs to two writers’ groups, reads in public and plans all his poems out. I’m already sensing several differences in our approach. I don’t like the idea of writers’ groups, don’t like speaking in public, and although I do think of planning I rarely do any. I say “rarely” but if you were to pin me down on detail, I may alter that to never. But I do sometimes thing of planning, which is nearly the same. However, despite the differences there is one similarity – we keep writing, learning and submitting.

My normal planning process is to think “I’m going to write something.” I may have to look at that again.

At that point, or some defined point in the future (generally after eating or watching TV) I write. Then I write some more and try to add something at the beginning that is also mentioned at the end. If you do that it looks like you had a plan. Then I take all the bad words out – long words because they are just showing off, adjectives because they are frowned on in poetry, and clichés – shards is one of the main ones that people go on about but myriads, hosts and cerulean are also unwelcome.

Then I leave it to rest. Some of my published work has been resting for a couple of years, with a gentle nudge and a prune now and again. Sometimes I add a bit, but mostly it’s a process of reduction. Then one day I send it out into the world. It often returns. So I cut, shape and send it out again. If it comes back too many times, I think about reusing bits of it.

It’s sometimes difficult to judge. Some poems go out four or five times and are eventually accepted. Others go once or twice and get parked. It all depends on how much confidence I have in them. One went out five times before being accepted, another was accepted on its fourth attempt (four days after being rejected by another magazine).  As Chuck Berry said ” It goes to show you can never can tell.”

An attempt at artistry

 

The Second Shot

I wrote a 350 word post earlier. It was about the GP surgery not having my blood test paperwork sorted despite me organising it three days ago. Then it went on to discuss the pharmacy and the lie they told me about texting me when my prescription was ready this afternoon. I feel you’ve heard the same complaints before so after ridding myself of the burden, I consigned it to WP limbo and decided to move on. I moved as far as the cooker, then as far as my seat in front of the TV. There I stayed for a while. I am now back writing a new post, and hoping that it’s going to be more interesting than the previous list of complaints.

It is ten months since I started taking poetry writing more seriously and in that time I have made 39 submissions. It’s going to be a bit of a slog raising that to a hundred a year, because I already feel that I spend a lot of time writing. I’m in the middle of a good patch at the moment – plenty of successful attempts with an even spread of rejection to keep my feet on the ground.

When I get a cluster of rejections I always start to think I’ll never be accepted again, and when I have  a good run of acceptances I worry that it can’t last forever. It is also the case that after a run of acceptances the next rejection hits harder. The mind of a writer is a strange thing.

I need two sets of submissions in the next couple of weeks – one to a magazine where I have had some minor success and one where I have had no success at all since a change of editor. I had a look through my list of pending/unfinished/work in progress and decided that there is very little there of any merit. I need a surge of enthusiasm and a flash of inspiration to set me going again.

Stuck for a Subject

It’s 23.22 and I have made a late start. I have also made two false starts, one on the subject of writer biographies and one on the subject of aiming for 100 rejections.

I have a strong dislike of biographical notes in poetry magazines, because I really don’t give a toss for the lives of the various poets that appear in the magazines I subscribe to. I don’t read them because I am interested to know that A spent twenty years in teaching or B has a degree in Creative Writing. I read them because they write something worth reading. I am at one with the editors who don’t do notes on the grounds that the magazine is about poetry.

I’m not against talking about myself, as you will know if you read the blog regularly, but I am against writing about myself when I’m trying to get poetry published. There are too many dull biographical notes, including ones that are just lists of publications, and I don’t see any need to add to them.

Anyway, I have nothing interesting to say.

I’m currently deciding on the look for the photograph one magazine has asked me for. Do I take a selfie as I am? That will, as Julia points out, establish me as a man in the tradition of W H Davis, the tramp poet. Though, strangely, he always looks well-groomed in all the photos you see of him. Or do I  shave my head, trim my beard and end up looking like the idiot brother of Ming the Merciless? It’s not an easy choice, and it doesn’t change my writing, just the opinion people have of me.

Then there is the question of the 100 rejections. It’s really about upping the number of submissions and aiming high. That, so far, is where I have failed. I only made four submissions last month and so far this month have only submitted one thing. I have several other submissions in the planning stage but I doubt I’ll manage more than four this month, as I don’t have the finished material to send. It hasn’t helped that I’ve slowed down this month, just when I really needed to get a move on.

When I started writing poetry I didn’t realise that so much of my writing life would revolve around haircuts, autobiography and planning. I thought it was all about writing. Silly me.

Robin on a Fence

Chaffinch on the same fence

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Endings and Beginnings and Keeping Going

Two days ago I published a  link to my latest published haibun. That night I had an email to discuss some changes to a submission I’d made just before Christmas. I’ve made them so I’m hoping for an acceptance there. Then last night I had a n acceptance for four poems. They are senryu rather than haiku (based on human nature rather than nature) but the line is blurred in English language Japanese-style poetry. It was a bit unexpected as I’ve never been much good with the short poems and, to be honest, never expect much. To have four accepted at one time is close to being unbelievable, and puts my total of short poems published (well, theoretically published – they won’t actually be published until next month) up from two to six, which is a big jump.

It’s quite a good way to end the year – all I need to do now is find a good way to start the New Year.

It goes to show what happens when you set your mind to something. I had a rest at the beginning of the year. I had had a series of rejections, one of my favourite magazines closed and there was a change of editor at another one – a man who has never accepted anything from me, and continues to accept nothing from me. I admit I did give up for a time, but you can’t keep a good man down and at the end of  July, after a lapse of nearly a year, I started submitting again.

Twenty submissions. Nine acceptances. This includes an acceptance from a magazine that turned me down three times previously.

The moral of the story is never give up. And if you do give up, remember that you can always start again. It’s not meant to be easy.

This is a lesson that can be applied to many things, and one which I really ought to remember, because I’m very bad at letting things lapse.

Latest News – just had confirmation the changes are acceptable and I therefore have another acceptance. This is a good end to the year.

 

 

Insights into a Lack of Success

The odds of acceptance in one of the poetry magazines I submit to is, according to their submission guidelines, about 1%. Every year I send four in, and every year I get  four back. I do, however find it an uplifting experience as the editor is always very kind about my efforts, and does tend to reply quite quickly. In this case the quick replies are standard practice and I don’t take them to mean that they want my poetry off the premises asap. (I’ve just had another rejection, by the way, in case it wasn’t clear).

One percent is a very small target to aim for (though not as small as the chance of winning the lottery) and I wonder if I might be better increasing my odds of success by looking elsewhere. The trouble is that I quite like the magazine, even though it is a literary magazine rather than a poetry magazine. Half of the content goes straight over my head and is printed in space that should, in my view, be full of poetry.

It’s tricky, because I do think you ought, at my level, to subscribe to magazines if you want to be in them, so if I’m going to look elsewhere it involves more expense, or shifting allegiances.

By “my level” I mean someone submitting to three or four magazines once a year each. My conventional poetry output is much smaller than my haibun production, though I’m going to have to work a bit harder on it if I’m going to make the cut for next Poet Laureate. The current one only has nine years left and if I don’t get it then I’ll be 81 before I get another chance. By that time I probably won’t be bothered.

Anyway, as one door closes another door opens and this rejection gets me out of a hole. The four returned poems, with a couple of others I have hanging around, give me just enough for four to another magazine before their submission window closes and two to the National Poetry Competition. I keep saying I’m going to stop entering, but the lure of fame and fortune is too strong. Not that I’ll stand a chance if the current trend for nastiness continues. I was seriously thinking of writing a poem about dead puppies, just to see what happened.

I say “thinking”, but confess that I did actually make a start, so I can tell you what happened. Julia banned me from writing it. That, I think, is a convenient place to end.

Thoughts on Rejection

I’ve had five rejections in the last month and have had several different reactions.

A feeling of being rejected was, strangely, not one of the reactions. A rejection, in this sense, is only the expression of one editor’s view on that particular day.

One of them was quite interesting, as it involved haiku. I don’t usually write them, despite them being an essential part of a haibun, and it’s something I should do more often. I’m resigned to them being rejected but every so often I submit some anyway to see what people think.

My most recent attempts bounced back with the news that only a third of submissions had any success, and telling me which two had been considered the strongest candidates. I don’t feel too bad about rejection when I know two out of three are rejected.

Two submissions bounced back within days, which I always take as a sign they weren’t even close. There’s not much you can say about that. I probably should learn to be more analytical and to send things that match the content of the magazine. I can do that in one case.

The other case was a guest editor, and it’s slightly more difficult to guess what they want, particularly when they don’t give you a clue. It can, of course, be tricky working out what they want when they do give you a clue. They told me they weren’t a good fit for that issue. I am as wise after reading that comment a dozen times as I was before I read it the first time.

I suppose it’s difficult finding ways to reject people without insulting them or giving them something to argue about.

One of the other submissions was returned with no further information. That was fair, as the submissions weren’t particularly good. It was another guest editor job and I’d sent two pieces which weren’t really finished because I thought they matched the style of the guest editor, an error I won’t make again. I hate being made to look unprofessional, even if I do it to myself.

The final one was returned with the observation that the haiku didn’t add depth to the prose as they were too similar. That’s a comment I’ve had before.

The other comment I have had before is that the haiku don’t harmonise with the prose and therefore fail to add depth.

It’s very difficult knowing what to do. Are your haiku too similar or too dissimilar? And will they be the same tomorrow? Maybe I just suffer from shallow haiku. It just occurred to me that my fascination for improper acronyms could have a field day with Shallow Haiku. As they generally come at the end, I could say that the trouble with my haibun is that they are Shallow Haiku in Termination.