where the writers are
Yes. Oh, wait. No. Maybe.
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

While I wait on agents and editors to decide my "big" writing fates, I've been sending out poems,essays, and short stories to the universe of small journals and magazines, online and hard copy. My Submittable record shows that in the past year and a half, I've had 16 acceptances, 93 rejections, and 26 pieces in awaiting-decision limbo.

This seems about par-for-the-course, heavy on No, light on Yes, and medium on "just wait already."

But today's email brought a yes and then a maybe not, all from the same journal. What was sadly pathetic about the initial "yes," was that it made me so happy. It was a journal that I've aspired to, and the acceptance was this:

Thank you for sending us "X." We admired your work and would very much like to publish it in the next issue of Y Review. Please confirm that it is still available for publication. We will be in touch soon with additional details.

Thanks again, and congratulations!

After a very long day of a variety of tasks that made me feel slightly worthless and unproductive, finding this email about a poem, "X," that I really liked made my day just peachy. I did a little squeal. I read the email--and X--to my husband. We talked about how folks like my poetry. We patted myself on my back. I took a shower. Afterward, I came back upstairs and saw this:

The poem "X" did not go through the entire editorial process. The majority of our editors did not have the opportunity to review your poem and vote.

As a result we are holding the acceptance until all members of the editorial board have voted.

We apologize for the premature acceptance, and hope that you will give us sufficient time to fairly assess the submission.

Total buzz kill.

I thought about several emails to write and drafted one. My smart husband told me that a reply would accomplish nothing and I was welcome to vent to him. I did. Then I ate sole muniere. And now I'm blogging about my rejection.

What I know now--given a hour to contemplate--is that what really matters is that poem "X" is good. I liked it immediately as, during, and after I wrote it. It made sense. It spoke to me, which is good, because I wrote it. I enjoyed the process of writing it. The fact that a well regarded journal--or, maybe, one-third of that journal--liked it is nice. If they publish it, well, I'll be happy about it. I know I'll feel like writing an evil email if they don't.

But I will take my husband's advice again, and not write back to them, telling them what I think about their editorial process. What I will do instead is think about that feeling I had as I wrote, that thing that gives me more than anything else about writing. That moment. Right then, when it all turns out amazing.