ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Monday, 14 July 2014

How to handle rejection

It's not you, it's the work, stupid.

Unless...it is you, in which case NEVER submit to them again, NOT EVER, not even if they grovel.

If you can wallpaper your apartment with rejection letters and are still upset about it every time, here's my top ten tips for coping with editors and publishers whilst retaining dignity and sanity:

1. Stonk around the room, pull the blade from your heart, curse and shake your fists at the sky, but recall that no-one has died. Cathartic moment over, then

2. Grow the hide of a rhino, a ducks back etc. Get tough and get going on sending your work somewhere else.

3. Remind yourself you are not telepathic. You cannot know what the editor was looking for in advance, so it may have been nothing more than the subject matter that was wrong. It will find the right home eventually.

4. Remember we don't all have the same taste in style, tone, form etc., and this includes editors. Your narrative is someone else's nightmare. There are people who like narrative elsewhere.

5. Edit yourself. Look critically at what you submitted, polish, rewrite and send it out again.

6. Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed, and that includes any advice about your work. If anyone bothers (and generally they don't) to offer suggestions for improvement when replying, look at these generously, they are meant kindly.

7. Don't write back. NOT EVER. The editors are not entering into correspondence, they are simply saying thanks but no. They don't want to receive comments on how they can improve their abilities as editors, or hear excuses or opinions on their parentage.

8. Be patient. Eventually you will get into the magazine of your dreams. It may take many, many tries. My record was over seventy poems in ten years and the magazine has ceased to exist without ever taking one poem from me. Oh dear, but meh.

9.  If the editors asked to see more of your work in the future, send them some. They are not winding you up and do not do this for people from whom they do not wish to hear.

10. Remember it's not you, it's the work, stupid. Never take it personally.

If you can't do these things then, perhaps seeking publication is not for you. Here, have a tissue.



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