Rejection

You guys. YOU GUYS. I got my very first rejection today! (Well, my first writing-based rejection. I have plenty of experience with never being chosen for dodgeball because I am terrible at, you know, dodging balls. And throwing balls at other people. And activities where I have to wear gym shorts that are two sizes too big.)

My lack of prior rejections has little to do with my talent and everything to do with the fact that I never submit my writing anywhere. It’s not that I’m amazing, it’s that I never give anyone the chance to reject me! This plan worked nicely for many years, but then I realized that if I want others to read my work, I have to be willing to risk rejection.

Which brings us to the email I received today.

 

Upon clicking into my very first form rejection, I was struck by the following thoughts:

  1. Hey, I finally have an update for my blog!
  2. Aw. 😦

This poem is one that I submitted to Babybug back at the beginning of January. It’s a tiny little thing, four simple lines that I tried to imbue with as much whimsy as possible. I also submitted another four-line poem on the same day, but I haven’t heard back about that one, yet. I’m not sure if that means they’re still considering it, or if I should expect another rejection in my inbox later today. Either way, I already have another poem edited and ready to submit, but I think I might wait a bit before doing so. I don’t want to overwhelm the editors, but I’ve been lead to believe that perseverance plays a big role in being published.

When it comes to getting work published, I do have big shoes to fill: my mom had a story published in Spider magazine. I recently asked her about her success, and she said the following.

“Well, I typed my story and put it in an envelope. Then I wrote a letter that said, ‘Hey, I wrote a story. I hope you like it.’ Then I sent it to Spider. I guess they liked it.”

Inspiring, Mom.

I must say, I’m rather grateful for Babybug’s short response time (less than a month) and that declined submissions don’t turn red in Submittable. (Accepted submissions turn green, so I was not looking forward to seeing a glaring red beacon of failure on my homepage.)

submittable
Names omitted to protect my poor, innocent writing.

So there you have it! I was rejected, but I’m okay.

I’m sure there are plenty of disappointments that await me in the future, but until then, I’ll just keep writing.

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Kelsey vs. the Librarians

I think I’ve been placed on some kind of watchlist at the library. Whenever I enter, an alarm sounds. (It doesn’t matter that I can’t actually hear the alarm. I know it exists.) The librarians squint at me from beneath furrowed brows as I drag Oscar past the fish tanks and into the relative safety of the play area. I’m also certain that security cameras follow my every move, and not just because of the one time I didn’t drag fast enough and Oscar practiced his new drum solo right on top of the cherished Angelfish.

I blame children’s magazines.

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In my elementary school days, I was awash with writerly success — I won savings bonds, had my stories animated for children’s shows, and performed poetry for the local school board. While I expect that my prized status had more to do with the fact that I spent all of my time entering contests and less to do with actual merit, I could still claim that I was an award-winning author.

In middle and high school, I continued to enter my writing in various contests and would occasionally win awards, but I was much more likely to pen angry poems about angels and drowning and bruises and squirrel them away in notebooks, never to see the light of day.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve submitted my work anywhere, and for some reason, when you’re an adult, no one cares that your poem about snowflakes won first prize in some regional contest when you were eleven. (I do maintain that that was a damn good poem, though.) Now that I am old and grey and unable to stop writing long enough to feed myself anything other than peanut butter crackers, I feel that same urge I did in elementary school. I want to write. More than that, I want to share my writing.

That’s how I first angered the librarians this past fall. Buoyed by bright, shiny optimism, I decided to read a bunch of children’s magazines to get a sense of what kind of work they’re publishing. When I approached the circulation desk carrying 27 back issues of Spider and Cricket, the librarian’s face fell. As it turned out, the magazines were not entered into the digital checkout system, which meant that she had to write the due date by hand in the back of every single one.

Oops.

The second time I incurred their wrath, I checked out just fifteen magazines. (I suppose I’d learned my lesson.) Much to my relief, the magazines had been entered into the system, though I’m at least 56% sure that I had nothing to do with that. All was well until I attempted to return them — for some reason, the librarian was certain that I had overdue magazines from the last time I was there.

Now, I have many flaws, many, MANY flaws, but I don’t turn in library books late. My delicate southern sensibilities are offended just thinking about it.

Thankfully, the librarian who I first had a run-in with was also on duty, and she was able to confirm (with only a slight snarl) that she knew me and was certain that I’d turned in all of my magazines.

Score.

I decided to lay low for a few weeks — over the holidays, I focused on poetry and nonfiction and was delighted to have two works accepted to various websites. When the adrenaline wore off, however, I was back at the library with another stack of magazines.

Unfortunately, a third librarian was on duty. Her perky ponytail and optimistic smile assured me that she somehow knew nothing of my shiny, magazined past. I approached with some trepidation, and working quickly before she could match my face to the wanted poster in the break room, I began to scan my magazines.

Of course, I only made it through five before the machine began to whoop and holler. “WARNING. THIS WOMAN IS CHECKING OUT AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF MAGAZINES. WHY DOES SHE NEED SO MANY. WHY MUST SHE DO THIS TO ME. WHY. WHY.”

The librarian’s ponytail dropped a degree or two. “Is there a problem?”

“No,” I said, sweat already beading on my forehead. I frantically tried to swipe another issue of Highlights.

“WARNING. THIS WOMAN HAS TURNED CHECKING OUT MAGAZINES INTO A CLANDESTINE ACTIVITY. WHY IS SHE SO SHIFTY. WHY.”

I paused. “The machine doesn’t seem to be letting me check these out.”

She eyed my stack, which was at least as tall as I am. (And I’m tall.)

“Try swiping again.”

The machine croaked angrily. So did all of the people in the line that had begun to form behind me.

She sighed. “Okay. I’ll just scan you in by hand.”

31 magazines later, I was free, she had fourteen new grey hairs, and my name and picture were emblazoned across every entrance of the library.

“WARNING. DANGEROUS READER. DO NOT LET INTO THE LIBRARY, LEST SHE ATTEMPT TO CHECK OUT MAGAZINES AND CONTRIBUTE THE COLLAPSE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION.”

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Man, I hope I get something published in a children’s magazine. I’d love to see the librarians’ faces when I approach them with a single issue, and instead of checking it out, open it to my byline. That would almost make it worth it.

Well, for me. Not for them.

Wish me luck!

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Acceptance

I haven’t written in quite some time.

Actually, that’s not true. I have written anything for this blog in quite some time.  I started it as a way to document my writing progress, and in doing so, I boxed myself into a space where I felt like I needed to have something to share in order to…you know. Share.

Mostly, that means that when I miss Thanksgiving dinner (two of them!) because I’m evacuating from every possible orifice, it doesn’t warrant a blog entry. It does, however, warrant 3,000 texts to my parents to make sure that I’m not dying. (Spoiler: I didn’t.)

The things that would fit this blog — NaNoWriMo, cool poems that I’ve been reading, the words of friends and family, the story idea that I came up with in the shower — are done so quietly that most people aren’t aware that they’re happening at all.

So here’s what I’ve been doing lately. Loud and proud.

  1. I’ve been reading a lot. A LOT. It’s wonderful! Poetry, short stories, old YA favorites, WebMD articles on Norovirus…you know. All of the good, inspiring stuff.
  2. I completed my seventh NaNoWriMo attempt. This year was a little different, though. Rather than writing my own novel, I was reworking my mother’s very first NaNoWriMo novel, a story about Salem, Massachusetts, men lost in time, perfume, and strange cats. It was an interesting experience, one that I’m no where near completing, but it was also a welcome respite from forcing myself to pound out 1,667 words of ORIGINAL writing each day.
  3. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry and short stories. While my big goal has always been to have a novel published, shorter works are my heart. I can’t break away from them. In the moments where my son isn’t sticking his fingers in my nose and the dishes aren’t spilling out onto the counters, I sit and I write poems and stories about howling and hot dogs and water and birthday cards.

None of this seemed worth sharing, though. The act of writing is sometimes a quiet one, one that I mostly share with Dylan (“Hey, will you read this entire novel? And then give me feedback? Even though I’m rewriting it? Even though the majority of what you’d read wouldn’t end up as part of the new plot?”) and my parents. (“Hey, will you read this short story? And then give me feedback? Even though I don’t always take constructive criticism well?”)

Today, however, I’m sharing.

When I first began to post my writing online, I primarily submitted my work to DeviantArt, where I found a lot of like-minded writers. I also submitted a piece or two to random publications, just for the sake of it. Now that I’m looking to get my work out there again, Submittable has become king.

Honestly, it’s all a little overwhelming. I feel somewhat out of element whenever I’m browsing places to submit my work, like that one elderly neighbor (you know the one) who tries to send emails through Microsoft Word. Sharing your writing is scary stuff, man. People look at it. They READ it. They judge it. Sometimes they delight in it. (Sometimes not so much.)

Sometimes, they accept your poem for their website. 

Keep an eye out on December 21st, everyone. This is just the beginning.

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