poems, rejected, the writing process

Rejected: Bees, beeps, untitled and earthlings

Yesterday was a pretty crappy day, with lots of small things going kind of wrong: petty bureaucrats giving me the indifferent runaround, problems with the kids’ sleep, the one-hour-and-you’re-home train being replaced by an hour-and-a-half-and-we’ll-get-you-there-maybe bus. Nothing awful, but a cumulative effect all the same.

It was the kind of day that you can’t help feeling was sent to you specifically by the gods as a way to break your spirit, even though you’re a rational humanist who doesn’t believe in that sort of stuff. I made it through, though, in reasonably good spirits considering, ending the day with the simple joys of a sliver of award-winning vanilla slice, an episode of The West Wing and a little cut-and-paste zinemaking on the loungeroom couch.

The new day dawned after a pretty good night of sleep despite the youngest’s fever (which seemed to have broken by her 1.30am wakeup, allowing her to sleep right through until 6am) so I assumed that yon day o’ crap was well and truly behind me and hopped the train to work with a coffee, some toast hidden in my bag and a positive outlook for July 7 2010.

But the aforementioned nonexistent gods of cumulative minor annoying crap apparently weren’t done with me, because waiting for me in my email inbox when I checked it at my work desk this morning was a rejection from the lovely folks at cordite explaining that the four poems I’d sent them a few weeks earlier weren’t going to appear in their forthcoming Creative Commons issue.

To which I can only say: poo.

I guess I should sit down and take another look at the four poems in question (“She Likes Bees”, “After the Beep”, “untitled” and “Accidental Earthlings”) to see if there’s anything obvious that needs to be reworked. I’m happy with “Bees” as it stands – I think that one probably just didn’t ring guest editor Alison Croggon’s chimes (from what I know of her writing she doesn’t seem like she’d go for the cute/sweet/whimsical thing, so it’s a fair cop) – but the others are still pretty newly hatched and could stand at least one more edit/rewrite, I guess.

“Beep” and “Earthlings” might fall into the same cute &c category and just not be to Alison’s taste, but “untitled” is a bit more of a serious affair – I can’t just put its rejection down to taste. There’s also a chance that it’s too slight and somewhat fragmentary.

But you know? I like all four of them, and it would have been great to have had one of them accepted, even if it was just to be reassured that someone else liked them too.

That sounded a lot more sadsacky than I meant it to. I think this morning’s caffiene is wearing off.

15 thoughts on “Rejected: Bees, beeps, untitled and earthlings”

  1. this sort of blog writing, this sort of post, this is what i want to read all about the web. it’s hard finding these little pockets of magic, but when i do, i thank the internet gods (Gates, Jobs et al).

    i could use words like honesty, illuminating, real, measured, passionate, informed… but i won’t. but whatever you are this morning, it’s not sadsacky.


    long time reader, first time commenter.

  2. Hi Adam,

    I received the same rejection note last night. I looked at mine again and decided that maybe they weren’t po-mo enough for the current issue. Still, the rundown was pretty vague this time.

    Keep at it!

  3. You’re not alone.
    I was rejected by Cordite this week too Adam.
    For the second issue running!
    I always get a little ‘sadsacky’ about rejections for a day or two.
    Then I forgedditaboutit!
    But don’t edit them based on rejection. Only if YOU actually think they need it.

    1. Thanks, Sean.

      I think that every rejection is an opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate the work that’s been rejected – especially if there’s some constructive feedback provided (which is actually quite rare, as you know). Even if the conclusion after re-evaluating is “no, this IS good”, it’s time well spent.

      Having been on the other side of the line as a journal editor, I know that there ARE poems that are rejected because they aren’t good enough or have flaws of one kind or another, so to adopt a permanent “them, not me” reaction seems counterproductive.

  4. I really, really, really like “She Likes Bees.” I love it, in fact.

    I know, rejections. I hear ya. I recently had a “third time’s the charm” experience with a journal I love…so maybe try again after this :).

    The more rejections you get, the quicker you’ll get to those acceptances (somehow this logic works in my mind) :).

  5. I got my rejection this morning and my day didn’t get any better, the highlight today was telling someone at work that they had the social grace of a hippopotamus that had just been raped!
    I’ve sent the rejected poems straight back out to other journals for a second opinion.
    Secretly, and without schadenfreude, if poets of yours and Sean M. Whelan’s talent get rejections from Cordite then I don’t feel as bad because it must have been an absolutely stellar field or Alison was looking for something very particular.
    If it’s any consolation your post eased me out of my dark corner this morning.

      1. I don’t believe your poems were crap.

        The hippo comment was taken with some humour, he’d just hogged the tea room microwave, heating his can of irish stew in three stages, 2 minutes then stir, 90 seconds then stir again, 30 seconds more to make sure it was hot!

  6. i didn’t get the rejection email from cordite, but recently i got one from GDS, which bothered me. i thought the work was really good, & in that case it doesn’t matter when they say, so many millions of submissions, so much quality… blah blah blah

    i reckon place them somewhere else. i rarely take advice from other people about my work.

    1. when i get a rejection from gds it stings a bit cos i used to edit them but that’s just wishful nepotism and i resolve to take it on the chin.

  7. I got rejected by that editor too. But I do think that the ending of the bees poem could be more energetic, more surprising. I think bees DO go with flowers, so the ending is a bit obvious. Sorry Adam, but the build up is nice.

    1. Hi Adam,

      Thanks for the feedback. Maybe there’s a way to moderate the obviousness of the ending.

      The point I’m trying to make with the poem is that all of the other “reasons” to like bees are tangential and complex, whereas the alternative is the obvious (and less frenetic or keen to impress or over-thought) answer.

      Which raises a good point: is a poem that deliberately tries to point out the obvious running the risk of being TOO obvious?

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