About Those Rejections…

Today, I am celebrating.

     I’ve been fortunate to have had numerous poems printed in a variety of publications over the past few years. But like every other poet, I’ve suffered through my fair share of rejections.

     So what am I celebrating? A REQUEST!! An actual, real, personal REQUEST to submit to a special edition of a literary journal. I couldn’t believe my eyes…

     Considering my past few years of writing, however, I’ve come to realize that all rejections aren’t equal. There actually are different “levels” of rejection. So for those of you just starting on the road to publication – or for those who might need a bit of encouragement – I thought a little explanation might be helpful.

     First there’s the cut and dry “Sorry, it didn’t fit” rejection. Or, the kinder “Sorry, we received so many submissions.” Bottom line: no interest at all, be it style, ability, subject matter, whatever…

     Next up comes “We found your work intriguing (stimulating, interesting, challenging – add the appropriate adjective), but unfortunately it’s not right for us at this time.” So, another rejection, but at least the submission was considered to have some merit.

     Then there’s the hopeful “Please submit again. This selection didn’t make the cut, but we’d like to hear from you in the future.” Yes, still a rejection, but the door to publication creaked open a bit. And I’d suggest, when submitting again, you mention in your cover letter that you’re doing so at their request.

     Finally, finally…acceptances start to arrive. I’ve found there are three kinds. An actual out-right acceptance of your poem as written. A “half-acceptance” whereby there might be publication if you rewrite a certain portion of the submission. Or third, acceptance would be possible – with your approval – including some editor’s changes. Generally these edits are minimal: some grammatical changes; shifting – or omitting – a line or two. But occasionally some editor having a bad day gets a bit zealous and takes a hatchet to your work. And then it’s YOUR turn to consider a rejection: turning down publication if you feel the integrity of your poem has been compromised.  

     And then…and then…one day that illusory, magical submission request shows up in your Inbox. What a surprise! Makes all the prior hassles worthwhile. Think I’ll go celebrate by writing some new poems…keeping in mind, of course, that my exciting “request” is just that – a request. And if the editors don’t like what I submit, well, there’ll be another rejection…

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