Saturday, February 9, 2013

Acceptance & Rejection; Or, How the Lit Mag Landscape is Like Dating

38º ~ brightish white cloud cover, solid, stormy weather in the offing ~ chickadees, sparrows, robins, and more, feeding in the dead leaves and brambles of our ramshackle backyard, leafy debris popping up to reveal each bird's location

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that earlier in the week, I began composing a new song, to be sung to the tune of "Conjunction Junction" from Schoolhouse Rock.  My song begins, "Rejection jection, you're an infection."

In the span of two or three days, I recorded four or five rejections, which is not unusual; however, two of those rejections were more deflating than the others.  You see, I've been trying to get a second date with Gulf Coast and a third date with Black Warrior Review for years. 

I had my first date with Gulf Coast on 4 Dec. 2004 when I received the email that the journal wanted to publish "The Empty Set, Recurring."  I'd received several encouraging rejections with personal notes in the two years before the accepted poem, so this was a confirmation that the poetry world was working as it should.  

*It is important to remember that Gulf Coast is a journal housed in a graduate program, and while the readers/editors do not rotate every single issue, there is turnover as time passes.

After my publication in GC, I continued to submit regularly, always beginning my submission letter with a gentle reminder about our first date and our apparent compatibility.  On every rejection, I received a personal note from one of the poetry editors, until the journal switched to an online submission manager.  (This is one of the bummers about many online systems; the editors have to take an extra step to include a note.)  For the past two submissions, I've gotten automatic email rejections.  However, I've just compared them, and yes, Dear Reader, there is a difference.  This latest rejection includes "keep [us] in mind for future submissions."  Well, my, my...another glimmer of hope arises.

Next, I received another form email rejection from Black Warrior Review.  This situation is a bit more tense, since the editors found poems of mine fit for publication twice in the past, but since 2007 have been sending along the "best of luck placing these poems elsewhere" emails.  In all other aspects, the situation mirrors that of GCBWR is a journal housed at a graduate program with a rotating set of readers/editors, and I send my "hey, remember, we went out a couple of times before" note with my submissions.  So far, that third date is playing very hard to get. 

Still, I persist, with both journals.  Foolishly?  Maybe, but I read both journals and think they put out stellar issues.  The rejections just make me want to work all the harder to make my poems stand out.


In the meantime, I've got a new poem that has finally, finally, finally landed a first date with The Southeast Review, another journal housed at a grad program and another journal that consistently publishes amazing work.  When I got the "let's go out on a date" email yesterday afternoon, I got all giddy and excited.  I've been submitting to this journal since 1999 when it was still called Sundog: The Southeast Review.  In fact, I mistakenly posted on FB that I've only been submitting since 2003 b/c I had lost track of the submissions in the other name. 

I've just reviewed all of my submissions and rejections.  Not one single word of encouragement over the years.  But still, I persisted.  I persisted because I read the journal and enjoy what it does.  I admire the writers I find there and I want my poems to rub shoulders with the poems, stories, and essays of those other fine folks. 


In another FB post and the resulting comments, my stubbornness was revealed in my refusal to accept Microsoft's lackluster dictionary in Word, in my refusal to update the dictionary on my personal copy of the program b/c I think it is Bill Gate's responsibility to sell a product that doesn't continue to dumb down the world.  Well, my persistence in submitting poems to journals is another example.  It's fitting that when I was waiting for Blood Almanac to appear on Amazon, I would search for "Longhorn" and what would come up?  Bone Head: Story of the Longhorn.  Yep.  That's me!

To run the dating analogy into the ground: there are are a lot of fish in the sea, and thank goodness, writers get to be polygamous when placing their work in literary journals.


Kathleen said...

Oh, I love the dating parallel. You made me smile and then, with the bone head, you made me laugh, you lovely Longhorn!

Jeannine Hall Gailey said...

Speaking of acceptances, enjoyed your poem in the new Redactions!

Sandy Longhorn said...

K., so glad you laughed!

J., thanks! Haven't had a chance to read the issue yet but looking forward to your poem!

John Vanderslice said...

Congrats on the acceptance into Southeast Review. That's a good one. Yes, I have some journals that I keep waiting on for that second and third date. Still trying to get my first date with Gulf Coast!

Hey, Sandy, I want everyone to know about your great set of poems in the just released Toad Suck Review! Available at Amazon, at our web site, and at the AWP conference. It's got a 3D cover!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, John! I love the cover and the interior of Toad Suck 3D!