Thursday, August 6, 2009

Let the rejection commence!

Yesterday marked a minor milestone in my creative writing career: I sent out my first submissions to literary journals and magazines. Which means in about three months, I should be receiving my first wave of rejections.

I'm not afraid of rejection -- it's part of the artistic process. Since joining the editorial staff of Redivider, Emerson's graduate literary journal, I have gained some insight into the process of getting published. And I'm not gonna lie; it's a little bit of a crapshoot. I mean, my job is to screen the slush, i.e. the unsolicited submissions. So I know that someone just like me is reading my stuff and making a judgment call which may or may not have to do with the quality of the work. I try to be objective, but at the end of the day, it's just my opinion. One person's opinion. And what do I know? I'm just a wannabe published poet myself.

The most amusing part of the process of submitting is researching which publications would be a good fit for my style/voice. Some of the guidelines are pretty narrow--consider, for instance, what kind of poetry a journal called The Bathyspheric Review is seeking:

The Bathyspheric Review is an electronic journal carrying fine poetry devoted to oceanic themes and imagery. Founded on a deep desire to celebrate the world's oceans, waves and beaches through poetry, we do not restrict our content to naturalism, but only request that it explores the imagery of the shore, the tidal zone, the impact zone, the surface, the mid-water, the deep.

Sadly, none of my poems really grapple with the tidal zone. I do have a couple of poems that deal with the ocean, but on more of a metaphorical level. I don't know if that counts.

Most lit mag guidelines can be summarized thus: Send us stuff that doesn't suck and hasn't been published already.

Sounds simple, right? We'll see.


Suzanne said...

Congrats on finding the motivation! I agree about how arbitrary the selection process can be. I stop reading poems from the Redivider packets often after the second line.

Anonymous said...

I've written stuff specifically for very specific journals. My thought is that the number of submissions must be lower but still the rejections persist. I'm very close to writing microfiction meant for placement in five day forecasts.