Chapbook forthcoming and dealing with a private battle against rejection

The summer always comes as a surprise to me. For the first couple of weeks, I’m bored. I crave the routine from my teaching job and duties. I slub around. I sleep in, catch up on television shows, but don’t seem to get much enjoyment from either. By around June, I start putting my life back together. Maybe I organize a closet. Maybe I find I love watering in the morning. Some sense of purpose comes back over me, and I start to notice the small miracles all around me that I never seemed open to seeing before.

The other day, I got super excited about being able to repurpose an oatmeal container into a toilet paper holder, and I realized that maybe I needed to pull myself back in a little. Not that getting excited about organizing and putting my life together is such a bad thing, but I heard once (and have since believed) that balance is the midpoint between two extremes. I could sense that if I didn’t do something specifically for my writer self (blogging, submitting, writing, etc.) that maybe I’d launch into full-on organization mode, and come August, I’d look back and think, “Why didn’t I write a word over the summer?”

In yoga the other day, the teacher said, “Don’t move just yet. Just think about moving and see what muscles flex.” Sometimes I need to do that with writing. Think about submitting. Think about writing. Flex those writing muscles, get them warmed up. I read some poems, thought about a suggestion a friend of mine had made on my full-length manuscript, made up a writing prompt, wrote an email. These tiny acts help open me up to being creative, to hearing and thinking about words differently. I felt more connected and open just after doing a couple.

I also heard fantastic news yesterday. In my last post, I wrote about presses with fee-free open reading periods. After taking a lot of things into consideration, I finally took the leap and submitted my full-length to some small presses, and also a chapbook of just myth poems titled Philomela to dancing girl press. Yesterday, forty-three days after submitting it, I received an e-mail saying my chapbook will be forthcoming in January to March of next year. Being that this is the first time a collection of my work will be out in print, I’m over the moon (and a completion of one of my goals for this year!)

A friend of mine texted me yesterday, “A chapbook AND a job? Who are you?” Looking back, I’ve had a lot of big news this year, including being nominated by two different literary journals for possible inclusion in Best New Poets 2013. Big news is very public, but my fights against rejection have been very quiet.

At the first of the year, I waded through 25 rejections in less than a month, and since then, have received a continuing stream of at least two or three a month, with only five acceptances to off-set them. I’ve been so overwhelmed by them sometimes that I stopped submitting anything for a whole month and a half because I didn’t want to receive any more. Publicly, my year has been a great one, but privately, it’s been an all-out battle to see rejection as a natural part of the writing life and keep going despite that.

After experiencing what I have this year, I imagine it’s like this for most writers. None of us, I guess, fly in on a golden carpet. We all get dropped on our heads once in a while. To me, it makes the big news bittersweet, but also that much more earned.

7 thoughts on “Chapbook forthcoming and dealing with a private battle against rejection

  1. Really like that golden carpet/getting dropped on our heads analogy. Yes, yes, yes. Again, congrats on all the accomplishments and empathy/sympathy for the times the universe said “NO!” Keep on keeping on!

  2. congratulations!!! dancing girl is a fantastic press. it is hard to get a bunch of rejections; some years are like that for me too, and some years are easier. maybe just taking some time off and focusing on the chapbook could be good!

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