The Losing Game: Writing Acceptance 3/?
Hello friends and rivals,
We are gathered here today to read about this most exciting of third writing acceptances.
If you had talked to me in September, I wouldn't have thought a third acceptance was a possibility this year. I was certain after nearly ten months of uninterrupted rejections that I was no longer producing work people wanted and would receive precisely 0 acceptances. I'd convinced myself that poetry should be something I did for fun only and I'd almost come to peace with that. When I wrote my first poem at age five (a rhyming fart joke about the author of Anne of Green Gables written on a post-it. I am shockingly unchanged. Possibly I became emotionally stunted in Kindergarten and that's just my lot in life. Explains a lot, doesn't it?) it was for fun, after all. I thought I was perhaps too middle ground for what's in vogue poetically. Neither form nor free enough, neither narrative nor meditative enough, I'm too all over the place, my scope is too limited, I'm don't use images enough, not plainspoken enough, too forced, too thoughtless, too pretentious, too uninteresting, too lively, not nature enough, too American-esque in style, I had paradoxical explanations coming out the ass. The first acceptance of the year did bring me some peace, and you can read about that further back in the blog. I was thrilled to receive it and have been just as delighted to receive others since. But do you know what soothed me? For real?
It was reading for a lit journal.
I've been writing poetry since that illustrious L.M. Montgomery fart joke at the age of five. But I'd never read for a lit journal. I'd never been on the back end of submittable. I didn't know how it worked. So when I got these hoardes of rejection letters saying things like "Just because we can't accept this poem doesn't mean it's not good." or "We unfortunately have to say no to high quality work"... these seemed like lines to me. Kind, but insincere. Gentle white lies. I appreciated the social niceties, I did. But I've always been slow to receive a compliment, perhaps because of all of those middle school boys who made sure to tell me how gross and ugly I was. (I mean, they weren't all the way wrong. My hair was...wild.) So I read these rejections without much meaning. I thought, that's nice, that journal's doing their best to not hurt fragile writer feelings. That's good business. And then I read for a lit journal. I was staggered by the sheer number of amazing pieces there were. I loved so many. I went through and there was truly not a single piece without merit. I agonized over which pieces to move forward and which to leave, because to my mind, they were all worthy of publication. But they couldn't all go through. I read the entries over and over. Each time they seemed worthier. Then I felt a transformation. All of those rejections which I'd always read as Regina George-ish (but better intended,) complimenting a girl on her clothes and then turning around and saying
now seemed to me like apologies, like an outlet for the stress of having to pick between so many great pieces. I rejected pieces that were legitimately fantastic. I rejected pieces I wished I'd written. I'd thought all this time that there was this yawning disparity between my perception of my own work and the actuality of it. I thought for sure that I'd deluded myself into thinking I had any affinity for writing, that my past successes were lucky, and I'd gone as far as I was going to go.
AFTER TEN MONTHS, I thought this. That's not that long in the grand scheme of things! I was talking to a really talented writer friend of mine who had accrued over 100 rejections and 2 acceptances over the course of years and I think she's brilliant. But she hadn't felt discouraged, she accepted that this was just the way the industry was. Dare I even say, that the industry is -- a Losing Game?
But my perspective shifted, and I learned something new. A lot of somethings new, actually. 1) If you base your self worth on outcome in an arts industry, you're gonna be unhappy. 2) Doubt lurks really close under the water for me and pretty much anything can make it break the surface. I was using something as out of my control as writing submissions to reinforce my confirmation bias that I'm not good, not worthy, average in every way. 3) I have a hard time believing nice things people say about me. I have no trouble imagining the worst possible versions they might think of me as. I can hold contradictory negative opinions of myself in my head at the same time with no struggle at all, barely noting the cognitive dissonance. 4) Tying too much of your identity into something you do instead of something you are is a recipe for disaster. 5) Ten months is nothing. 6) I can only know the circumstances I know. The circumstances under which a piece of mine was rejected or accepted will never be known to me, and projecting Regina George onto editors/publishers isn't fair to any of us. 7) It's good to get involved with multiple roles in your field. That's often where deeper insight lives.
Okay. That's it for now, because 7 is the most magically powerful number according to the Potterverse. The eighth, (because they made 8 movies.) is that, in short, I need to calm my titties.
One final thing I want to share with you all before I get to the acceptance itself is this breakdown from Augur Magazine that shares their behind the scenes when they receive submissions. This also really helped elucidate for me what the process is, because from my end as a writer, I send off work, it hangs out in submittable, turns from received to in-progress to rejection or acceptance. But this will clarify for you folks. It's seriously worth a read: Augur's Process for Submissions. Without further ado, here's acceptance 3. It comes to me from a magazine I've long loved, where many Canadian writers I adore have been published. I'm beyond excited to be counted among them.
[WRITING ACCEPTANCE 3/?] Dear Erin, We would like to accept your poems "Competing," "Event Coordinator," and "Beacon" for publication in the ninth issue of The /tƐmz/ Review, which will be published Nov. 11. If you are interested in placing this work with us, please confirm via email, and send us an author photo and an up-to-date third-person bio. Best, The /t3mz/ Review
I am the happiest cat. Maybe even happier than my cat, who we just learned last night loves marbles. Also, he hid a dead mouse under my very low to the ground bookshelf. I learned that when trying to get a marble he'd batted under there out with a ruler. The marble came out and so did a mummified little mouse body. Thanks, son. If my wonderful upstairs neighbours are reading this, sorry for that ear piercing shriek at midnight last night. My bad.
Until next time beauties, - E.B. Kirsh