It's July 4th and I've just finished helping my almost 10-year-old (unofficial) stepson bake a rhubarb berry crumble, using rhubarb from the backyard and currants and raspberries picked from our bushes last year. The 12-year-old (unofficial) stepson served as sous chef and dish washer. The production of this crumble spanned the entire morning. Later, after my 1 1/2 year old (official) son wakes from his nap, we will all pile into the van and take our long-labored over dessert to a barbecue held at my partner's ex-wife's aunt's house. Here, we will eat food, drink beer, and mingle awkwardly, as one big "happy" family, celebrating our nation's independence. 'Merica!
In the meantime, since it's halfway through the calendar year (or just past it), I figured I should do some sort of update on this whole 100 rejections project. So, here are the numbers as they stand today:
Rate of Acceptance: 15.9%
Submissions in Progress: 32
Signs from God: 1
Obviously I'm still not quite on track to read 100 rejections by the end of the year, but they've been pouring in more quickly lately. I also had a little spate of acceptances a few weeks ago (one of which can be found via a link in the "Publications" section of my homepage). This caused my actual rate of acceptances to skyrocket, though it certainly has time and space to fall dramatically before year's end. I have submissions out there; I need to put more out there. I am taking the auspicious patch of snow we spotted during a recent mountain exploration as a sign to keep going, onward and upward. Perhaps what I seek can be found in those rocky crags.
The real question is, though, how do I feel about all these rejections, the few acceptances? Is the 100 rejections experiment working? Changing how I approach this whole being a poet thing? The answers are convoluted.
Despite professing the goal of accumulating rejections, each one is still a letdown. There's still that hope, however small, when sending out a submission that maybe this will be the one that catches the eye of an editor at some big name journal. When the inevitable form rejection comes back it stings, at least a bit. The sheer volume of rejections, especially when they come in rapid succession, makes each sting a bit less powerful or lasting. Still, each one kills of a tiny bit of hope. Sadly, a similar effect seems to apply to my reaction to acceptances. The acceptances are still immeasurably sweeter, but when they start to add up too quickly, the sweetness of each is diminished. A writer, or rather, a submitter, never wins.
***Blog Interrupted by Patriotism and "Family" Obligations***
Fun was had (by the children). Awkward interactions were endured (by all). Rhubarb berry crumble was consumed (my many). Once again: 'Merica!
Much more could be written about the above, but that's not really the point of this blog. Maybe more will be written about the above later, but it's complicated and strange and therefore difficult to write about well. Maybe that's the point, actually. Doing concrete things - going to uncomfortable gatherings, sending work into the submittable void - isn't actually all that difficult. Writing about things is the real hard work.
While getting rejected isn't exactly fun, it's not nearly as discouraging as re-reading your own writing and realizing it's not as good as you thought it was or wanted it to be and you don't know how to make it that good. Getting acceptances and seeing your work in print is nice, but it only assuages the writer's constant self-doubt for a fraction of a moment.
The thing is, I haven't been writing as much as I'd like to. I could come up with all kinds of reasons (excuses) - the toddler, work and finding more paid work, relationship things, myriad other "responsibilities" - but the truth is that writing is hard. It's intimidating. It often seems impossible. But finding that one perfectly fitting turn of phrase, getting even one line in a poem to sing like you want it to - these are the real triumphs of a writer, even if those lines are ultimately rejected a million times. These are the real goals of a writer.
But the year is long, 100 still so far away.