I felt compelled to write this section because rejections can be painful and we all have to deal with them. I didn’t realise how much emotional stamina I needed until those dreaded slips started arriving.
I’d like to start by saying don’t view rejections as personal because often the poem may not be what that PARTICULAR editor wants at THAT TIME. Here are some useful pointers from my own experience:
- Keep submitting and editing. Try different publishers.
- Competitions: always scan the profiles of competition judges to see what kind of stuff they write themselves.
- General submissions: familiarise yourself with the collections published by the publisher.
- After receiving a rejection: take time out and pick up the pen soon after. Don’t allow long and dry periods of time between submissions.
- If the same poems keep coming back then it’s possible that they’re not polished enough or maybe the subject has been written about too much already. This is where I feel that to be a good editor of your work you need to be a good reader. Know what’s out there in your field. Are you aware of common themes and underrepresented themes? Stay up-to-date by reading articles in Poetry News and journals in general. Read about the process of writing. Read about other writers’ writing activities and adapt your own writing techniques. Read work in other languages in transcription and translation. Read lesser known writers. This will all add freshness to your style and make you more accessible to a wider audience. It will also help to widen your perspective on a particular theme.
- Lastly, DO NOT lose hope. Have faith in yourself but also realistic goals.