When I was in Hawai’i, I spent a considerable amount of time searching for literary journals that might publish my work and choosing, formatting, and submitting poems to them.
Some of you may have seen my recent excited, squealing post over an acceptance that came from those submissions and my crazed rush to withdraw the three accepted poems from other journals to which they had been submitted.
I am nearly always submitting to journals that allow simultaneous submissions to avoid having to wait months to find out an editor has rejected a poem before being free to send it elsewhere, but the protocol is to promptly withdraw a poem from other journals if it is accepted.
Most of the time, I submit to journals that don’t charge reading fees, but I did submit a set of four poems to a journal that does charge a reading fee and offers personal, expedited feedback for a slightly higher fee, which I decided to do, as I haven’t had much experience in hearing criticism from an editor’s point of view. On the bright side, this journal also pays cash for poems they accept, which is somewhat unusual. It’s more common not to be paid or to be given a copy or copies of the journal, if it is print rather than electronic.
I sent en email over the weekend withdrawing the accepted poems and today (Tuesday) got feedback from that journal’s editor, who obviously had not seen my withdrawal notice. Under the circumstances, I’m grateful that she didn’t accept any of the poems! She did give very specific and helpful criticism and was very encouraging about my submitting to their journal in the future.
Her criticism of the poem in which she was most interested – and which she invited me to revise and re-submit directly to her for consideration, which I can’t do because it is one of the ones that will be published by Wilderness House Literary Review this fall – was actually addressed in an earlier draft. I need to talk to some of my poet friends and see if it would be too forward of me to send the earlier draft to her to see if it addresses her criticism adequately. It’s dicey because I can’t offer it to her for consideration anymore.
Another way in which this journal is different is that they read blind, meaning that the poems are submitted without any reference to the author. For a new poet like me, it saves me from an editor seeing my file and saying “Who the heck is this?” So to receive encouragement to send more of my work was very validating, knowing that the editor didn’t know whether or not I was someone who published regularly or had a writing degree. She didn’t think I was a rank amateur.
When you get a typical “thank you but your work does not fit our needs at the present time,” you wonder if maybe the editor is rolling his eyes and thinking you are totally out of your depth.
But, at least today, an encouraging rejection is a confidence booster.