It’s sometimes difficult not to feel that it is you as a person and not the work in question that is being judged. I try to celebrate the minor victory when a piece is accepted for publication. I try to plough back into my work when something is rejected – and submit the piece somewhere else almost immediately. I’m fairly stubborn (my wife’s word – I prefer persistent) so I wait until a work has been rejected many times before considering major rewriting. On the other hand, a free-form poem I’ve struggled with for years has just been re-written in sonnet form and sent off yet again. Having edited an anthology myself, I realise that selection is at best a very arbitrary process. A poem may be selected on the strength of its having a humorous line when an editor is looking to lighten things up. Your brilliant short-story may be rejected because it’s 1100 words long and the editor only has room for 1000. Over the past two weeks I’ve had work rejected by Kanto (a biligual English/Japanese website based in Yokohama), Etchings (an Australian-based literary magazine and Vibrant Gray ( a new online journal – good luck!) Conversely, I’ve had word that future work will appear on Cordite’s Secret Cities, Divan (an annual online journal) and a spoken-word/music composition poem on the underground written in London before the Iraq War will be heard on ABC Radio National’s poeticA
There are currently 46 poems in the ‘awaiting publication’ file (some recently completed, others rejected, but soon to be resubmitted elsewhere), 34 poems under consideration as audio, new-media or written form for competitions, journals and websites and over 200 in the ‘work in progress’ file. Some of these 200 are just a title or one line. Others are more substantial, but incomplete or otherwise not ready for others’ eyes. I never throw anything away. My poem at the experimental art foundation was rejected by Wet Ink and Going Down Swinging, but accepted by Cordite. Before leaving Australia at the end of ’07 I was beginning to feel that my creativity was drying up. Being in Japan has given me a wellspring of fresh ideas in a very different environment. It has also given me a physical and emotional distance to look afresh at some of the work that languished for years. I’m in this for the long haul. I will continue to be accepted.
I will continue to be rejected.