Tag Archives: rejection

Ups and Downs, with a Distinct Lack of Ups

I’m feeling slightly better because the infection seems to have gone. Unfortunately the other difficulties remain. This is what happens when a doctor doesn’t listen and only treats one of the two problems. As such, I am feeling well enough to make vegetable stew for tea, but would have practical difficulties if I went back to work. I will either have to get an appointment to talk to a doctor tomorrow, or pack a picnic hamper and  go down to A&E again.

With sandwiches, bottled water, books and a pillow I’m sure I can pass a perfectly acceptable day surrounded by impatience and misery. And, in my case, incontinence. Oh what a joy it is to be alive. Sometimes you only appreciate things as they slip away. Of course, if you put the drama to one side, I am 99% sure they will fix it and that I will go back to not appreciating things again. It’s human nature and I am very weak.

To add to the misery, I just had a rejection. It’s from  journal that has published me before, but it’s a guest editor this month. For a moment I did feel quite down, but that’s the infection rather than any sudden sensitivity.

I know how it goes. Guest editor, shiny new toy. When the publication comes out it will, despite the desire to be different, be much the same. Good writers will always get in. I will read the magazine, note the names, nod significantly as I see many of the same old names, then start reading. Some will be great, some good, some will be worse than my rejected submissions. It’s always the way . You can edit things, but you can’t make poets believe that they aren’t good enough to be published. If we were capable of believing that, there would be few poets.

Time, I think, to shrug it off, keep up my fluid intake, and plan tomorrow’s picnic. You know the old saying about lemons and lemonade? This is “When you have fifteen hours, pack a picnic and a good book.”

Robin at Clumber, Nottinghamshire

When in doubt, bung in a Robin.

The Devil drives ’til the hearse arrives . . .

First post of Sunday. I’m planning several more today – let’s see if the result lives up to the planning. (I’ll give you a clue – it’s not working well at the moment).

So, poetry news. I had an email from Butcher’s Dog this morning  They have decided not to select my work for publication this time (as they put it), and have sent a very pleasant and upbeat email to tell me that. As you know, I have become slightly blase about rejection over the years, but even if you have become immune to it, it’s still nice to be rejected in a cheery manner, rather than the way some people do it.

It also makes commercial sense, as everyone needs to sell magazines, and one of your best markets is the people who want to write for you. I have twice stopped subscriptions to magazines on the basis of the quality of their rejections. There are always plenty of poetry magazines out there who need the money.There are no such worries for Butcher’s Dog,  they are doing a good job and I will be there in the queue next time they have a submission window open.

The other one wasn’t actually a rejection. It was worse than that, it tells me that they like the prose but they think I should rewrite or drop the first haiku and that the title needs work. Some magazines accept or reject without alteration, some ask for, or suggest, small changes. Others always seem to ask for more work. In this case, they ask for the work to be done and the only commitment they make is to look at it again. Most editors either accept and suggest edits or tell you that they would be happy to accept if you make the changes.

I’ve actually been thinking about this for a day or two. In these circumstances it’s sometimes easier just to thank the editor and withdraw the poem. With this one I’m going to give it a go. The opening haiku will be cut. I can’t guarantee writing a better one in the next few weeks so I may as well take the easy way out. The title had been developed after extensive thinking. It wasn’t great, but it was better than the original, and it had several features which were obviously too subtle. The new one is much more in your face and I’ve added a couple of lines to the prose to connect it to the title.

And now it’s time to throw it back and see what happens. If it is accepted it’s just a number, if it’s rejected, it’s no big deal. Regardless of the decision, next time it goes out, it will have the first haiku restored.

Now I just need to decide on whether I add a footnote about the title or not. I hate them, but sometimes you just need to drive the point home.

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More Rejection

I had another rejection this morning. That’s two this month, though as it was a month of pushing the boundaries it’s not a surprise. I had four earlier in the year (three of which were actually competition entries). Over the years I have not had much luck with competitions – I’ve been commended twice, which is better than  nothing, but not great when you consider the cost of entry fees. As I said before, I have learned to cope with rejection over the years. I’m still no farter on with my thinking about the direction to take and the effort to put in.

I know I should be concentrating on writing haiku until I get better at them but I have two problems here. One is that I don’t actually know what “better” is. A lot of haiku I read don’t seem any better than mine, and in many cases feature things which, according to the various “guidelines” shouldn’t be in haiku (remember they very small poems with very large mounts of rules.) An editor i was in correspondence with recently told me that when they started writing haiku they decided which rules they were going to adopt and just kept plugging away. I might do that. Or I might just relegate haiku to something I do to fill in time on a slow month.

The other problem is that I like being published (though it’s not the driving force it used to be) and I’m lazy. I may as well write what I enjoy and what I’m good at. If I were being paid for poetry that’s definitely what I would do.

However, I don’t need to make a decision yet.

This morning I printed out four poems which I am sending to a magazine that sticks to the old-fashioned ways, including submissions by post. After printing and before sending off, I looked at them and realised the top one was a long way from “finished”. The second one was so bad it immediately provoked me into making notes on it. I didn’t follow up, as I had to get to work, but it was an interesting lesson. I suspect that reading words printed on paper, instead of on a screen,  triggers a new set of critical thoughts. Tomorrow I will set to revising. I may have to start printing everything out in future.

Now it’s time to get some work done and go to bed. I have a blood test at 7am so I need to get some sleep.

My Orange Parker Pen

Thoughts on Haiku, Haibun, Tanka and Poems

The haiku that had been short-listed have now all been turned down. It wasn’t really a surprise as my haiku don’t generally find favour with editors, and certainly not the magazine that had shortlisted these. Simply being short-listed was ana advance on previous attempts.

In a way I feel guilty that I don’t feel worse about it. I haven’t been turned down since April and it should be a shock and a disappointment. Fortunately I have become hardened to such things. This is, I suspect, both good and bad.

It’s good because I no longer feel demotivated by rejection. In this case it’s been modified by being short-listed and by having some helpful comments from one of the editors.

On the other hand, if I am to make progress I really should care about rejection and use it to spur me on to something better.

This part of another train of thought too. I spend time on haiku because I want to write better haiku as it will mean I am writing better haibun. On the other hand, in the time I take to write 10 haiku, knowing that I will generally have them rejected, I can write ten tanka or a haibun/tanka prose. The chances are that I will get at least two out of ten tanka published and one or two out of every batch of three haibun I write will be published too.

Should I concentrate on what is successful? Or should I concentrate on what I find difficult?

Then we have the free verse. It takes me longer to write and it’s quite competitive. I’ve just been told I’ve been longlisted by a magazine that had 2,079 submissions and will be publishing around 24-25 poems. That sort of thing is about average. Several magazines tell you they only publish between 1 and 10% of the submissions they receive. So far I’m not downhearted. I’ve done it before and there’s a chance I can do it again.

Positive thinking.

I started with a descending scale of fruit. Figs are a poetic fruit. Blackberries are a useful shorthand for autumn. And plums are dangerously close to innuendo.

I Have a Problem

My positive thinking campaign has paid off so far. I have written more and have submitted to two magazines that I have a patchy record with, one that has always turned me down and one I have never submitted to before. So far, two have replied and both accepted something – one senryu and one Haibun. These were, to be fair, the magazines that had published me before, even if it was not a regular thing. I’m now waiting to see what happens with the other two. It could be months yet, as neither are particularly speedy.

Unfortunately, though I’m doing more work, I am also finding myself bogged down by admin. Some of it is out of proportion to the increased workload. I could keep track of most stuff I was doing with just a brain and a piece of paper but now I’m picking up the work rate and increasing the submissions I am having to keep better records. My brain is marginal at the best of times but give it four new magazines, and the  30 extra poems and I am struggling to keep up.

So far this year I have made 38 submissions. By the end of the year it will be about 50. It’s a long way from the hundred I used to talk about as a target, but it’s near enough one a week, which seems quite a lot when you are the one doing the writing. I don’t know how the woman who wrote the article managed a hundred.  I just looked it up. She was actually aiming for 100 rejections a year. However, all she got was  43, and five acceptances. Lightweight! Makes my submission record, in a lazy year, look quite good.

Today has been mainly taken up with sorting out two submissions, working out my paperwork system, cookery, reading blogs and  drinking tea. Well you need some relaxation time don’t you? I think I have things sorted now, but it’s been a struggle.

It’s now time to complete a blog post telling you all how hard I am working.

Ooops! I just realised that the first meeting of the Numismatic Society is taking place on 11th and I wanted to put on a small display of some local items. I hve the items (mostly) bu I now have a week to do the research. It’s going to be a bit tight.

The Numismatic Society starts again. Can winter be far behind?

Oh, the problem? Time. It’s always time . . .



The Spirit of T S Eliot

It is, for a poet, a truth universally acknowledged, that every acceptance is accompanied by a shower of rejection. True to the spirit of T S Eliot, as quoted in a  previous post, I stole that from Jane Austen. She doesn’t need it.

The system with poems in general, and the Japanese forms in particular, is that you send a handful of poems. You may, if you are lucky, get one accepted, sometimes even two or three. Also, if you are lucky, you may be told that some of the others are good too, or (rarely) you may be asked if the editor can keep one for the next issue. Otherwise, you end up with a clutch of rejected poems and no idea why they were rejected. The may be bad, they may be good, but not as good as the one that was selected. Or they may fail for a number of other reasons.

Whatever happens, as happened a few days ago, when one is selected from eight it is an acceptance and a success. The seven rejections count for nothing. Anyway, under my new system they aren’t “rejected” they are merely “not required”.

I’ve just been through the seven returned poems and three of them are already part of a new submission. One of the remaining four, one is not very good when I look again, one of them is a poor match for the new target and two of them are possibly too English (which we have discussed recently).

The next submission will be 10-15 poems and the window closes at the end of the month. I have tried this magazine three times and never had an acceptance. Or, in other words, all 15 are likely to come back. This is good for me – good discipline to try harder targets and to write more, and good for my resilience, as you need to keep being rejected in order to practise your mental toughness and resolve.

As a bonus, most magazines specify ten haiku so, when these come back, I will already have a whole new submission ready to go. There is always a silver lining.

Wilford Suspension Bridge

I searched “pen” to find pictures. I found a couple, but had several results which included the letters “pen” in the middle of words – impressive bit not helpful.

(This was written a few days ago nd left, as events overtook me. I thik I have corrected it to show teh correct chronology, but if I have nissed anything – sorry).

Title? Can’t really think . . .

I’ve been trying to get into the comments for the last two hours. All I get is a small circle going round and round . . .

Is anyone else having this problem?

Anyway – Julia’s swollen eye is now definitely on the mend, which is good as progress has been slow over the last few days and I have been struggling for supportive things to say. There’s only so much you can say after the first day.

Over the last few days I’ve had a couple of emails from editors. One was an acceptance. However, to cut my ego down to size, they did offer a couple of suggestions which improved the piece considerably. It was a masterclass in editing and an example of how things can always be improved.

The second was a hybrid – neither an acceptance or a rejection, but an invitation to make alterations and resubmit. Generally I’m all in favour of chances to be published but over the years I’ve had bad experiences with this sort of thing and have never had an altered piece accepted on this basis. You know where you are with acceptances and rejections, even with conditional acceptances, but this sort of hybrid never seems to work for me. I can’t see this being the one to break the sequence, particularly as I’ve only been given a few days to do it. Fortunately, I no longer have my old drive to be published so I’m not going to stress about it. Some you win, some you lose. This piece will eventually be recycled, but not just yet.

Meanwhile, I have answered a few comments by going through past posts but still cannot call up the comments as a whole. I hope this might be fixed by the time I post tomorrow.


Red Valerian


The second day of the Jubilee Bank Holiday. One of the neighbours has been flying bunting originally used for the Coronation in 1953. It was flown on the same house as in 1953 too, as the house has been in the same family since it was built in 1928 (or thereabouts).

Julia went to the park with one of he friends last night for the beacon lighting, but there was some confusion over the timing of the events so they came home without seeing much. They did meet the lady who walks her tortoise, but he wasn’t there.

The only interesting feature of the day was a rejection from an American haibun magazine. I could write a few hundred words on the subject but I’ve decided not to bother, as I’ve said all there is to say on the matter and I’ve forced you to read it several times. Well, actually I did write several hundred words on the subject, but it wasn’t very original or interesting.

Tonight we are having hoisin meatballs for tea, and I am about to make them from scratch. It’s one of those kits from Gousto, a birthday present from Number One Son. It’s nice to try new recipes, but it’s a bit of a culture shock to start slicing garlic again. Over the years I’ve adapted my cooking style to use garlic out of jars and ready chopped veg, as it gets round the problem of having stiff fingers. I can still use a knife, I just can’t be certain I’ll still have all my finger tips by the end of the slicing.

So, to sum up. I’m going to go and cook and while I slice vegetables I’m going to try not to think of editors . . .

Day 111

It’s the 21st April already and I have a deadline on 25th, followed by another on the 30th. I am going to have to get a move on. When there are only two deadlines in a month (having already taken the decision to skip the one requiring a war/global warming theme) I have to make sure I keep my work rate up. One is for an editor who has never accepted anything from me and another is for an American magazine. I don’t do well in American magazines. It looks like this month will be the one that redresses the balance of last month’s success.

I wrote that last night, as it was on my mind as i thought of what to write. Today things moved on, and I wrote an entire haibun in my head on the way home.

I have now booked my second Covid booster vaccination, having had a text to tell me to do so. However, the government site seems sceptical and wants me to take proof of my compromised immune system. Left hand and right hand seem to be acting in a slightly disconnected way. I’m having this booster because my rheumatology specialist booked me in for it six months ago because of the drugs they are giving me. I would have thought that was all the proof they needed.

In a similarly disconnected way two practice nurses and the pharmacy are trying to get blood pressure readings off me, in three different ways. One nurse wants me to take my own readings in a morning. No chance – I have enough to do. One wants to take them when I have blood tests – which is why I am thinking of going back to the hospital – they just do blood tests and don’t poke about with anything else. The pharmacy is now telling me I can get a free blood pressure test if I make an appointment. I take it from all of this that, having not bothered about it for years, they are now being told, and possibly being paid, to hassle me about blood pressure. The self-fulfilling result of all this is that my blood pressure goes up every time I think about it.

Day 104

I fell asleep in front of TV. The fire was on and the chair was comfortable. What more can I say?

I had three non-acceptances yesterday – one from a magazine and two from a competition. After doing well in competition last year I had hopes again for this year, and my entries were, I thought, better than last year. The winning entries, unfortunately for me, were also better, and far better than mine. Such is life. The magazine rejection was not unexpected.

That leaves me at nine acceptances and three rejections for the year, which is still satisfactory. Even better, I have a number of poems which are now free for resubmission to other places – this is my writing system and it is good to get it back into operation. After the double illness last year the system stopped, as I lost the continuity. It’s good to have some material in reserve again.

Beach Huts – Southwold

I think I’ve probably covered this before, but a lot of my acceptances have had several rejections before they succeed. Many of the successes, to be fair, are very different from their original form – forged in the heat of rejection, if you like.

Inevitably they become shorter and often assume the form of a short prose piece followed by a haiku. I don’t remember the proper Japanese term, but it has developed over the years, even over the few years I have been writing them seriously, and is almost the standard form.

I find it a bit dull, when there are some many other structures, but that’s just how it is. Sometimes it seems like it’s impossible to be published in an American magazine unless you adhere to this form, and to several other fashionable ideas. What were guidelines a few years ago, are almost rules now.

On Dunwich beach

Of course, the older rambling prose interspersed with multiple haiku can be pretty dull too. They used to be known as “pearls from mudbanks” haibun – flashes of brilliance concealed in a heap of words. I’ve read a few of them this month too, and they can be great, but often aren’t. That was the style I used to write fifteen years ago. None of them were published. After a twelve year rest I came back ith shorter haibun. I’m now trying to make them longer.

And thus we come to a crossroads. Do I alter my writing style to fit fashion, or do I carry on doing what seems right and wait for fashion to change?

I have ambition to improve, and write better, but no particular inclination towards fame and fortune, so i can afford to wait. After all, as I’ve said before, I write because I enjoy it and only submit to magazines because it’s a form of quality control. It’s nice to know that I’m writing to an acceptable standard, but I try to take a balanced view of rejection. A couple of years ago I used to compose acerbic replies to editors in my head. These days I just shrug and edit.

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