On Submitting Work - April 13 NaPoWriMo Ultra Mega Super Duper Extra Edition

Day 13 - I Dit It. I Finally Submitted Some Poems.

I *hate* submitting my poems. I have a deep aversion to the rejection that comes with the process. It's debilitating. It's a legitimate phobia. I know exactly how and why this came about in me (and that is a long story, of course). I have done many things throughout the years to try to overcome it. I've had minor successes but have also often relapsed into cocooning myself away from exposure.

Be Bold

Generally speaking, I'm a bold person. I like bold colors, bold accessories, bold ideas, bold music, bold bold bold! Be bold! is my mantra. 

Except when it comes to submitting my poetry for publication. I can't say, "it wasn't always like this," because I never took up the practice of trying to publish poems until later on in my life as a poet. By the time I was supposed to be the "accomplished poet," after graduate school for my MFA, I had developed this phobia.

--I had developed this phobia because of grad school, actually. I had a difficult time during the last year of it. I won't go into the details but it gave me a phobia of the rejection that comes with the process of submitting my work for publication. I should probably go to therapy about this, to be honest. Now that I'm aware of how insidious it is. But I am doing what I can now to get through it, on my own.

Submission and Rejection

The last time I tried to submit a lot of work was November 2018, where I submitted a poem a day as a variation of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It was a success, as well. I had a poem published AND that poem was reviewed elsewhere with a very favorable review. Yay! 

But, phobias are not rational things. So, the rejections are what overwhelmed me. One was from a small publication which offered to do "respectful" constructive criticism if they did reject your work. I took them up on the offer. This was an enormous mistake, as they were actually really smarmy and derisive in their critique. And also stupid. 

They didn't get a line because it was about variations of flowers and how those flowers have similar names to pop stars. They thought I misspelled the name of the pop star, not realizing I was referring to the variations of the flowers--I mean, the poem itself was centered around gardening, so the fact they didn't catch that just showed a hubris on their part that should have made me realize their opinions weren't worth shit. Hahahahaha. But, again, phobias do not care about sound rationalization. They only care about exploiting the fear you feel, however unjustified it is. 

So here I am a year and a half later, and I have finally come around to submitting again. Now, mind you, I have published since then, but only if it was from someone who came to me to ask for a poem to publish. I haven't put anything forth in the vulnerable "please like these poems, dear stranger" sense. Not since that last time. Not until today, that is.

How do I feel? I feel pretty good about it, to be honest. If I'm rejected, I will be fine. I think, maybe, this time around, I have finally come around to realizing that it's not that what I sent out was bad--it's just it wasn't the right fit for that publication. 

I have learned to never ask why. I don't want to hear why. It's all so subjective, for the most part, any way. I will do my best to focus on what is important, which is the sharing bit of poetry. 

The Sharing Bit

The only way poetry can sustain itself is if we dare to share our work with others, instead of shielding it from any exposure. That's not what poetry is there for. Sometimes a poem is only a private cartharsis. But as a collective, poetry is meant to be communal. I must do my part to be part of that communal living.