Tag Archives: Zig Zag Lit Mag

Let’s Get Rejected! The Final Reckoning…

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Now that the New Year is upon us, we can at last do a final accounting on my goal of receiving 100 literary rejections in 2017. I’ll lead with the headline: I didn’t make the goal!

To be fair, I think a major factor was my pipeline from 2016 (more on that later). But facts are facts, and figures are figures. Let the record show that I received 78 rejections in 2017, of which 70 were from submissions I made in 2017, and another 8 were from 2016 submissions that came in during 2017.

78 out of 100 isn’t bad, right? That’s a C+, which in many places will get you a college degree. Also, and this was the entire point of the challenge (I think), I learned several things along the way:

  1. When you’re courting rejection en masse, it loses a lot of its sting.
  2. I can submit a lot more than I previously thought- I met my carefully calculated target of 143 submissions. Previous to that, my highest year ever was in the mid-50s, and I thought that was a hustle.
  3. Pursuing that volume brings you into contact with a lot of publishing venues (and people) you might have ignored if you were going for a more comfortable target.
  4. When you’re submitting more, you start to feel some pressure to write more.
  5. When you’re submitting more, you get published more.

This last one is pretty vital. In the course of pursuing those 100 rejections, I got the following acceptances:

  • My poem “Hitting Bottom Sestina” was published in Blognostics in May.
  • My poem “Thoughts on Viewing the Facade of a Vietnamese Restaurant, Post & Larkin” came out in Strange Poetry in July.
  • My Poem “Emily Listens Critically to Diana Ross” was featured in the print and online edition of poems2go in September.
  • My poem “Politics II (after W.B. Yeats)” was in issue 3 of Zig Zag Lit Mag in September.
  • My poem “Twelve Steps to the New Israel of the Beats” got honorable mention in the 2017 William Faulkner Literary Competition, and I was even invited to go the awards ceremony in New Albany, Mississippi in September.
  • My poem “The Ideal Man” came out in the December issue of Feel Good Weird.

I also had poems, personal essays, a short story, and a poetry chapbook place as semi-finalists or receive the coveted “encouraging rejection” from all the sins, Dreams & Nightmares, Muse / A Journal, the Poetry Matters Project, Slippery Elm, and Stirling Robyn’s Publishing. I say this completely seriously- in this age of pervasive form rejections, I find a good “you’re on the right track” to be worth its weight in gold.

So, what’s next? First off, having now learned that I can, I’m going to keep submitting in high volume. I’m currently targeting 150 submissions this year. Which sounds like a lot, but, truthfully, is right around three a week. Completely achievable!

I also think it will get me to the 100 rejection target. Part of the problem in 2017 is that a lot of those 143 submissions won’t generate responses until this year, and I had a much lower volume of prior year submissions coming in from 2016- only 45. Fueled by much larger 2017 pipeline, I’m already at a pretty good pace this year- 8 rejections so far. Huzzah!

Lastly, I mentioned writing more in my “lessons” above. While doing all those submissions, I began to find it a little limiting to keep sending out the same 4 or 5 short stories and essays. Ditto with my most-submitted poems. On top of that, as more things get published, the body of work available to send out gets smaller. So I’m also setting a target of 260 writing hours this year (aka 5 hours a week every week). I need some more product for the pipeline!

And there we are for my 2017 writing statistics. I’ll keep you updated in 2018, and am wishing us all happy writing and pursuit of publishing!

Let’s Get Rejected! (Q3 update)

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You may recall from my January post on this that one of the goals I’ve set for the year is to get 100 literary rejections. This was inspired by several friends who did it last year, and is a fiendishly clever mechanism for standing the usual submission dynamic on its head: Acceptances? Who needs ’em! I’m chasing rejections, and I’ll submit in whatever volume is necessary to get them!

In addition to being distracted by the fight against the forces of darkness for most of the year to date, I haven’t posted a lot on this due to some computer issues that prevented me from having all the stats I needed in one place for easy tracking. But that’s not your problem, and anyway, it’s all sorted out now. So, now that I have all the data together, how am I doing?

In terms of volume, I calculated going in that I’ll need to make 143 submissions in the year in order to get the desired 100 rejections. As of this weekend, I’m at 89 submissions. So that leaves 54 for about 3 1/2 months left, which is a quite doable 15 per month. On target!

That being said, there have been the following troubling failures:

Well, you can’t lose them all. I also had a few frightening near misses:

  • I got to the finalist round of the Poetry Matters Project’s Spring Robinson/Mahogany Red Lit Prize. But was not chosen. Whew!
  • Stirling Robyns Publishing didn’t chose my chapbook Visions: Fear & Hope / Humorous & Uncanny, but did have some very nice things to say about it, as well as suggestions about other places to try.
  • Although Muse / A Journal passed on my essay “Smells Like Middle-aged Reverie”, they sent a personal note to say they enjoyed it and to encourage me to submit again. I had similar experiences last year with this essay- people love to almost publish it!

The good news is, despite these acceptances and almost-acceptances, I’ve had plenty of rejections! 44, to be precise. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, that leaves me with a  pretty aggressive target of 16 rejections a month average for the next 3 1/2 months to hit 100. Still, I’m not one to quit.

I’ll update you again in late October about how my experiment in success with failure is going!