Update: manuscript submissions are no longer unfamiliar territory. In the last couple of weeks, between two chapbooks and a nonfiction manuscript, I’ve sent out over fifty submissions. This has been time-consuming and expensive, but so worth it. So far, I’ve had a pair of collaborative poems picked up by Menacing Hedge. I’ll link when they become available in April.
I’ll say this, though: for every acceptance, there are so many rejections. I’m not going to say “countless,” because I keep track of them all, and they all matter. Submission tracking—keeping an organized log of everywhere my writing is going—is a huge part of “the process.”
There are different tiers of rejection. Sometimes the rejections are form letters. Sometimes they are more specific, and my writing is called “clumsy.” Sometimes I’m encouraged to “keep writing!” Sometimes, I am told “it was so close.” Sometimes I don’t hear anything at all.
After all those years in writing workshops inside and outside of graduate school, you’d think that rejection wouldn’t bother me by now. Usually it doesn’t. Life goes on, rejections get logged in a spreadsheet, and new submissions go out.
I’m human, though, and once and a while I wonder what that thing was that caused the editor to move on to the next submission. This bothered me a lot a couple of weeks ago, when one of my chapbooks earned a rejection with only a three-day turnaround—a near-instant no.
As I’ve been told many times, by professors, and as I repeat to my own students, sometimes the difference between success and failure isn’t talent at all. Sometimes the difference is persistence.
Success looks a lot like this:
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