In which Your Humble Blogger talks about how she sometimes gets ahead of herself:
The town where I live doesn't exactly have a happenin' arts scene. That's not to say that it's totally deprived. There are lots of resources here, my favorites being our well-stocked library; plus, a few talented creators are also based in this neck of the woods. I'm grateful for everything that's available here. However, the fact remains that the south suburbs aren't the easiest place to find other writers, especially poetry diehards, to turn to for critiques, feedback, and advice. (And the Internet can be helpful! But it's a different feel when you sit down with a person from a writing circle and talk about your writing in, well, in person.)
So during my poetry year, I was pretty much writing in isolation, partly by choice because of nervousness at the idea of getting back into poetry, but mostly for the reasons stated above. At some point, though, I knew I needed some kind of assessment of how I was doing, but something like this blog hadn't occurred to me as an option yet, and I was actually hesitant about showing this stuff to my friends and constantly bugging them with it. Imagine it: I'm a thousand times more nervous and more concerned about what my close friends think of what I do than I am about a stranger's opinion.
Around June, I did something a little forward: I found a small (very small) literary magazine, read one of its back issues and some other sample work posted on its site, picked out a couple of poems from my notebook that I didn't consider a waste of time to read and that I hoped would match the feel of the magazine, and submitted them for publication. Just to see what would happen.
The rejection letter I got was the best thing I could've hoped for:
The magazine touted "brevity and wit" as two qualities they looked for in submissions, so at least I got the fun part! Not quite our style? I can see that. I think it can be pretty hard to discern what an editor's looking for, especially if you're not a longtime reader of the publication. How do writers do it? Do they subscribe to every literary publication that's out there? Oy! There's a lot! And I make freelancer money! ;)
How lucky was I, though, to get a personalized response? Most rejection letters are form letters that leave the writer with no idea why the pieces were rejected and no clue as to how to improve (or if there's even hope for improvement). I am grateful for (and in search of) detailed critiques, but it was very heartening to receive this token of kindness from an editor who otherwise has no responsibility toward me.
I'm not quite ready yet; I know that. But any encouragement that suggests that one day I might be is a good, good thing.