Mercury retrograde. You've probably heard about it now that astrology's been back in vogue for a year/has taken over your instagram feed. What does it mean, you might wonder grudgingly. The basics of Mercury Retrograde are that communication is fucked, especially communication that is dependent on technology. Misunderstandings abound during Mercury Retrograde, you might feel like everything is especially futile and cry 22% more. So that's the deal. Is Mercury Retrograde real? Shit, I don't know man. I'm a hard agnostic. This is my reaction to everything:
But I'll tell you this, it's nice to have something to blame. No, it's super nice. It's super nice to have a collective scapegoat that isn't deeply troubling. Fight with your partner? Mercury Retrograde. Your computer crashed in the middle of an important task and you forgot to save? Mercury Retrograde. You could only remember 130 of the original 151 Pokemon in the 15 minute time slot allotted to you at at 1 AM on a Friday night? Definitely, definitely Mercury Retrograde.
And for today's post, I'm also going to blame Mercury Retrograde because I woke up one morning this week to Writing Rejection 32 and felt pretty discouraged. I texted a friend about my self-pity adjacent, sad-about-all-of-the-rejection feels and by the time I'd sent the text, rejections 33 and 34 had come in. This was all before 9 AM on a weekday. I'm not saying the rest of the day was a write off, but I legit walked into a pole on a sidewalk I walk down every fucking day.
I don't usually get discouraged by these rejections, if anything, I get a sort of smug glee from them; they're receipts that I've done the work. But this is the longest rejection streak I've ever had. I feel like I'm working harder than ever and running face first into the same unyielding brick wall. And let me tell you, the impact of my face doesn't seem to be eroding it in the slightest. There are no chips in that brick.
More than once I've learned the lesson that hard work does not necessarily equate to success, but it's a deeply entrenched cultural narrative and is therefore super sticky. (Don't get me wrong, people who are ruffling their feathers and getting ready to argue with me, I think hard work helps, but let us return for the sake of this sentiment to the word "necessarily." If hard work was all it took to be successful, explain the thousands of broke people working 60 + hours a week. Explain how I've had several high responsibility jobs but the one I worked hardest at was being a postal clerk at a retail drug store.)
Because of the adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, I've been reflecting on what it is I'm doing wrong, what it is I lack, but art is subjective. I could make myself crazy trying to figure it out and never learn anything definitive. So I've stopped mulling it over solo for the moment, and have instead decided to turn to my friends. Cue conversations with some of the very smart people I know, who have talked to me about the difference between saying "I failed" and saying "I am a failure". One such individual sent me a video wherein the speaker asked viewers to reflect on the past 5 years and determine whether they were closer to living the life they want for themselves now than they were then as a measure for determining if they were on the right path. I have to say, despite the discouragement, (which is so uncomfortable and unpleasant. Why did nobody tell me it was so uncomfortable and unpleasant?) I think I probably am closer now.
And so, fortified by these philosophers and armed with something aside from my own creative failings and the inherent chaos of the universe to blame, I'm ready to share these new rejections with you. Thanks, Mercury. Thanks, smart people willing to share their two cents. Thanks, whatever it is in me that's willing to smack my one precious face against rough, solid wall again and again and again. Let's get rejecty.
[WRITING REJECTION 32/100]
Thank you for sharing this work with The Adroit Journal. After a careful review of your submission, the staff has decided that it unfortunately is not quite right for the journal at this time. I did, however, want to mention that we most enjoyed "Beacon" from this batch of poems.
Best of luck placing this work elsewhere, and we hope to hear from you again soon! (We'll be re-opening to submissions in August.)
The Adroit Journal
[WRITING REJECTION 33/100]
Dear Erin Kirsh,
Thank you for responding to our call for submissions to Vallum: Contemporary Poetry, 16:2 “Fear”. Unfortunately, after much deliberation, our editors are unable to accept your poems for publication at this time. Please note, this decision does not reflect the quality of your work. The difficult editorial choices we make are based on a number of factors, including the issue’s theme and our effort to include a variety of styles and voices in each issue. The reason for passing on your work may also be because we reached our limit of accepted pieces – we regret there aren’t enough pages to include all the high-quality work we receive. We wish you luck in placing your poems elsewhere and encourage you to submit to Vallum again in the future.
The Editors of Vallum
[WRITING REJECTION 34/100]
Thank you for sending us your work; while it was not a fit for Electric Literature, we appreciate the chance to consider it.
[WRITING REJECTION 35/100]
Dear Erin Kirsh,
Thank you for sending your work to Split Lip. Unfortunately, your work is not a good fit for us at this time, but we genuinely believe that it will find the right home when the time is right.
As writers ourselves, we know how much rejections suck. Sorry for putting a damper on your day/week, but please keep writing and submitting and believing in your work. Thank you again for trusting us with your work.
Split Lip Press
That last one in particular is very sweet. It's not my fault. But you know whose fault it IS? Mercury's! As a special bonus, reader, here's a handy little guide for you re: Mercury Retorgrade.
Chat again when Mercury stations direct!
- E.B Kirsh