|I'm the one on the right...|
I have an interesting pet peeve that has been happening to me and some other writers I know. Some of these writers are very well-known. Some are not as known, but you'd recognize their names. You'd say, I can't believe they rejected him or her. I'm going to leave them anonymous to protect the innocent, but I've been talking with them to make sure this just wasn't a *me* thing, this wasn't just something that felt bad to me... and they said they dislike too, so I'm going to jump into this topic fully, reveal how I've been feeling about editors who solicit your work, then reject you--> I hate this new/old trend.
Here's the deal-- In the last year, numerous editors asked me to submit to their journals. My thought? Wonderful! I haven't been submitting and I never know where to submit, so when someone writes me and says, "We like your work and would love for you to submit to our journal," I'm excited because now I have an idea where I can send my poems.
I submit to well-known, well-read journals as well as new journals and teeny-tiny journals. I don't judge the journal on anything except the editor who asked and if I have work to send. Basically, if I like the editor as a person, I submit...though sometimes I don't have anything available or get busy, etc and don't submit, but mostly, I've submitted to all the folks who asked me to submit to their journals this year.
But this is not the problem. In fact, this is a problem to have--being asked to submit work. I agree, it's a blessing. And I love being asked to submit work and I'm thankful I'm in a place where people do ask. And yes, it is still an honor to be asked. I love receiving those notes because it makes me feel good and as a head-in-the-oven poet, any sort of nod that someone is reading and liking my work matters to me.
For me, the problem comes after sending work to these editors as requested and then they reject me. Or when any writer submits to a journal that specifically emails them and asks them to "please submit to our journal" and they are rejected.
Because it totally sucks to be rejected after being asked to submit. Rejection sucks anyway. After someone has taken the time to call you beautiful then shrugs you off, it feels worse.
A few facts:
1) I know when I submit to these journals even AFTER being asked, it's not a guarantee I'll have work chosen. I know this. I know this in my heart of hearts. Still, when you specifically ask a writer to submit to your journal and you reject him/her-- it stings even more.
Or maybe just for me.
Rejections after being asked to submit make me ache and doubt. It's as if I was asked to the dance, I show up in my best outfit and my date doesn't want to dance with me at all. In fact, he sends me home. He gave me the corsage, but wants nothing to do with me. You were prettier before you arrived at the dance, he says.
2) I am an editor myself at Crab Creek Review. Occasionally an editor at our journal will ask someone to submit (this tends to be rare because we all believe as writers ourselves-- if we ask you to the dance, we're going to dance with you).
Some times those writers/poets have submitted but the work they submitted isn't exactly what we were looking for or what we expected from them.
Do we reject them? No. What we do is work with the poet/writer and ask them to send something else. Why? Because *we* asked them to submit to us. And they did. We asked them to the dance so we plan on dancing with them even though their blue tuxedo doesn't match our fuchsia gown.
3) No matter how nice and personal the rejection letter is written, it's still a rejection.
What do I think should be done about this? Honestly?
Editors-- Do not ask a writer or poet to submit to your journal UNLESS you are going to work with him/her to find something you can use and publish.
Otherwise, it feels sleezy. How many other people are you asking to submit to your journal? How many others are you asking to the prom? How many people are you asking to help you get the writers you want, but in the end, you're stepping on their heads to get to the top of whatever mountain you're trying to climb.
If you want to get better poets and writers to submit to you, then publish a better journal. Do better advertising. Expand your readership. Pay them. Give them more copies. Give them publicity. Support their projects.
Don't write to the writers and ask them to submit because you want "the best of the best" or better writers to choose from.
And this is not to say I'm the "best of the best," this is only to say, I was asked to a few dances this year, showed up, and cow's blood was dumped on me... No wait, that was Carrie.
I was asked, I showed up, and I was rejected.
In the big picture of life, this isn't a huge deal. In the moment of having a bad week and being rejected after being asked, it hurts a little more.
So editors, as an editor myself and a writer too-- be careful with the artists you play with.
We can be big & tough, well-known, sort-of-known, kind-of-known, not-known, but in so many ways every time we start a new poem or essay or story, we are beginners again. We may look as if we're made of bricks, but we're made of paper and we crumple easily.
Remember that, dear ones.
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