The Losing Game: Writing Rejection 11/100
Hello again friends and rivals! You may recall that while T.S. Eliot and I have our differences, in my last post I aggressively agreed with his statement that April is the cruelest month. I do not think it is a coincidence that we have chosen to make this National Poetry Month, and let me tell you, lit journals have kept real busy honouring it. Since I posted last week, I have heard back from not one, not two, but seven lit journals, confirming the old adage "when it rains, it pours."
And if you think I got one of these seven responses per day spaced out nice and evenly, you are wrong. On Wednesday, my inbox was absolutely spammed with rejections. It rained. It poured. But as T.S. Eliot probably also said, April showers bring May flowers, and some of the responses proved fruitful. Not this one though. In the case of this rejection, April showers did not bring metaphorical flowers (here signifying an acceptance), they brought mud and an increased risk of hydroplaning (here signifying a rejection and possible feelings of discouragement.) Appropriately, the name of the publication I got this rejection from is Mud Season Review. I did not plan on using this metaphor to write about this, the first of seven responses, but it just happened and I'm not going to fight it. Wait, wait, wait, some of you may be saying at this point, don't you give yourself hand pain from refreshing your e-mail because you want to hear back from lit journals? Haven't I literally heard you threaten your phone and curse out a sender when you got an e-mail that was not from a lit journal? Aren't you kind of complaining about hearing back from a bunch of places even though that's your deepest wish?
Yes, yes, and yes, logical people. Good point. All of those things are true. I am thrilled when I see that I have an e-mail from a journal. I get physically excited (in my heart) (sometimes other places) when I get one. Seeing so many e-mails I actually wanted to get this week has given me lots of tiny, cute mood orgasms. However! There are drawbacks. It's kind of like winning a good battle in a video game: amazing, but now all my stock is depleted. I currently have a dangerously low number of places I need to hear back from. Your girl is all out of arrows and health potion, which means I've got to go on a submitting streak soon.
(Pictured above, me, out of arrows and health potion, on a submitting streak.) It sounds obvious, saying I need to submit more, and I don't know about you other writers, but submitting takes a lot out of me. I give it a lot of thought. I don't casually toss any poem around like pistachio shells. (You are now no doubt realizing what that crunching sound is when you take a step anywhere in my room. Try and think of it as an intentional, cowboy bar aesthetic.) On my most productive and focused day, I only submit to three places.
Here's the process for me after the proverbial video game battle: I need to go through the carnage of rejections and see which pieces I have left, which takes a surprising amount of time. I try to determine if there are pieces have been rejected so many times they may just be bad. Then come all of the other considerations. Is the journal a good fit? Is the theme of the issue right for me? How long will it take to hear back? Do I send fiction, poetry, or non fiction? Is the piece I'm thinking about sending up for consideration elsewhere? When's the deadline to submit to this magazine and might I write something that feels more appropriate by the deadline? How do I feel about my body of work at this exact moment? Do I really want to be productive, or do I just want to fall into a Netflix hole/twitter trance/read horrible depressing comments section to confirm my pessimism and misanthropy?
All things I ask myself. Despite the complaints, I am overjoyed to have heard back from so many places. It's been a super happy week for me because of the multitude of responses I've received. It's good, but it makes me nervous, because A) I'm left with fewer chances for success and B) what happens if I get so busy I don't leave myself time to do all of the things I need to do, like submitting to journals, or cooking, or laundry? (Cooking and laundry are usually the first to go. I wore the same pair of socks for three days in a row this week, it was the worst, for everyone.) Earlier I quoted T.S. Eliot again* and said that April showers bring May flowers, and I'm going to use that line differently here. If I do the work now, there are going to be rewards later. So I'll get back on that zebra. Or I'll do a nice thing for my co-workers and finally do some laundry.
[WRITING REJECTION 11/100] Dear Erin, Thank you for submitting your work to Mud Season Review. We’re sorry this submission wasn’t right for us, but we are glad to have had the chance to consider it.
Mud Season Review
Stay tuned for the other six responses I got this week! Can't wait to tell you all about them. - E.B. Kirsh