The “Rejection Response” Poem

Recently, I received a rejection letter from the editor of a poetry magazine/journal.  This was no ordinary cut-and-paste form rejection.  This editor was kind enough to include some helpful advice.  While I always appreciate advice (as most writers do), this particular email and his comments cut me.

At first, I thought of his words as sound advice.  Then I stew over what he had to say over the next few weeks.  I’ve read and re-read this particular email now at least a dozen times.  It’s been a bit of an obsession I must admit.  One final reading of it has set a flame burning in me over the last 24-hour period (let’s save the date for posterity – 8/11/15).

This brings me to the reason for this additional page here on the blog: a response.  A response that may set me on a new course of much more open, honest, brutal, blunt, festering-wound, bitter, rough-around-the-edges writing.  If you’ve set that date aside with me (8/11/15) you may go along on this journey with me or you may find that this date becomes a demarcation line which you cannot cross – a date after which I began to offend you.  I should hope this is not the case.  I value you all as readers, your comments, your likes, and the very thought of anyone reading my writing.  Don’t leave me without first asking me a simple “WTF, John” first, please.

Now, without further ado, the response to rejection and the start of new days and new writing.  Love always, John…

Pour It Out

the advice landed on my deaf ears

all the timing was off

I was down on my luck

found lying face down in the gutter

holding a half-consumed bottle

dead in nearly every regard

not even the best EMT could

have located my pulse


a quick re-read of those pointers

and today I am alive and alert

out of the gutter and back inside

no bottle and a clearly discernible pulse

the living can recognize me

I may even once again

become a functioning, worthwhile

contributor to society


“Be Bold”


you have not seen bold

until you see where I go next

boldness will be redefined

the words will not be

intended for the timid

of this, you can be assured


“Rich Life Experience”


I’ve had that in spades

and you’ll be reading it

if you can handle it

I’ll be writing it


“Writing for Public Consumption”


what I won’t do is write for

anyone else but me

if I write for you or for anyone

then I write to please rather

than write what is true

what is real, true, dirty,

ugly, unvarnished

my life has been all of that

and my writing will reflect me

it will reflect my life


thank you for your advice

and screw you for your advice

you have given me a moment of pause

a redefinition of me, of my writing

a moment of crisis

a low stretch of searching about

in the darkest rooms

for me and for words

and now I re-emerge

ready and aiming the ink

squarely at you


let the gods take cover

I am about to pour it out

take out the stops

unleash love, hell, satan,

hatred, love, joy, anger

it’s about to be poured out

I am prepared for this

I certainly hope you are

  1. One true thing writers should know: You have a particularly strong spirit. Nothing just puts down a writer. Almost every happening ignites a fire to burn within us so wildly. While a lot of people mourn so much loss or rejection, we have this gift from God to turn things into something so beautiful. I pray that through our writing, we can help others ignite a beautiful fire even through seemingly unpleasant happenings.
    Btw, beautiful fire is just my term😉

  2. “Writing for public consumption”. What does that even mean?? The world is so diverse that we can NEVER write to please EVERYONE. I agree…we write for ourselves. We write the truth of our emotions, our experiences of the world through our eyes. It’s our truth and vulnerabilities (and our writing style) that people are drawn to. Continue doing your thing John. I’ll definitely be reading.

    • Thank you, Karolyn!! 🙂 You’ve said it perfectly!! Poetry and for that matter all literature is subjective anyway. I’m not sure anything can change that. And poetry especially has to be true for it to work. I agree with you completely!! Thanks again. I’ll definitely keep posting!

  3. “Writing for public consumption” probably means you went in directions the editor was afraid to go. Stay with who you are. You don’t need your work picked apart by a jerk. You do well enough with the way you write now. One day I believe his rejection will turn back on him. Keep that “UU” brand on the open range!!

    • I’ve quarreled with myself and a couple of others over that very topic even before I got that email. Who does a writer write for? I think if I’m writing a novel I almost have to write for a target audience. If I write a crappy sci-fi novel, the sci-fi fans won’t buy it. lol But I’ve never felt poetry fit that bill since it’s all about the writer’s experiences and emotions. It has to come from the deepest part of a writer’s gut not from a perspective of “oh I sure hope this makes someone like me.”

      I’ll make you a deal. I’ll keep those double u’s out on the range if you’ll keep that “geezer” “skrambling.” Deal?

  4. Hey there. I had my first rejection of sorts the other day. Pebbles on the path we have chosen, John. We can stumble on them or we can pick them up, drop them in a puddle and watch the sunlight catch the ripples. Our writing rocks!

    • Thank you, Gail! Those rejection emails keep coming but I’m sure every writer has gotten them. But they sure can be discouraging. Like you said, we can get upset and stay upset or use it to grow. 🙂

  5. I have a question. I was wondering what poetry/magazine were you looking into getting published in?

  6. Just because it has been rejected – doesn’t mean it is not good. Getting published is far more of having the appropriate material at the appropriate time. I used to work on magazines that had a small poetry section. We used to take it in turn to write rejection letters. You have a lot of well-wishers here who appreciate your words.

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 I suppose the fact that writing of any kind is subjective – either like it or not. I can’t imagine an editor publishing something they don’t like even if many others thinks it’s good. And the timing of a piece of poetry is likely just as important. You’re right. It’s great to meet you!

  7. JoHanna Massey

    “Writing for Public Consumption”

    Oh that is rich indeed!

    Write on John, write on!

    • Thank you, JoHanna! 🙂 It’s gotta be honest, raw and bold so it has to me on that page and therefore another piece of therapy written for me, right? 😉 The same should be true for every writer out there.

      • JoHanna Massey

        I agree. I also think it comes easier for some to use their true voice than others.
        Enjoy so much the way you use yours!

        • It can be a challenge if a writer doesn’t want to reveal too much of themselves. We all have those hidden parts of us that we may never allow to come out to play (or write) but if we can allow small parts one at a time to be revealed it’s much less painful.

  8. Sometimes a writer just has to write for him/herself, I think.

    • Oh absolutely. I think if what’s being written isn’t honest and a part of that writer then it may as well not be written. If what’s on the page speaks of honesty it’s worthwhile.

  9. If the rejection letter ignited the passion to write more boldly, to risk offending when you didn’t before take that risk … hmm … I have learned that the very ideas that have made me most angry (at first) often energized my honesty and growth after the initial pain.
    But that’s not why I happened upon this page … just traveling the blogosphere and found the visual terrain of your blog appealing … so I kept reading and reading and reading.
    Connecting with our audience is as much happenstance as writing for an intended audience. Thank you for your poetry and good luck finding success beyond this universe.

    • Thank you, Jane! 🙂 Anger or just rejection can be great fuel and help us write better and bolder. When a reader finds emotions and experiences in what we say a connection can be made. It’s great to meet you!

  10. Amazing !!… You have burned the rejection letter from this editor with your poem…

    • Thank you! 🙂 His advice may help and I appreciated it but the more I thought about it…well, you see the results of all that thinking. It’s great to meet you!

  11. VictoryInTrouble

    I love this:
    thank you for your advice

    and screw you for your advice

    I’m glad you let the letter sit with you and you realized you needed to respond to it to make it better for yourself. This is an awesome way to do that. I hope it feels better now.

  12. Perhaps because I haven’t read the original rejection, I’m totally confused about “for public consumption.” Is it just an oxymoron since poems are meant to be read?

    About rejections, check my post “So, What Do They Want?”

    • Thank you, Alan! 🙂 I’ve wondered about that and it seems to me that the best poem will come only from the writer spilling nothing but honesty rather than attempting to woo an audience. You’re right that they are meant to be read which does make the statement to write for an audience an oxymoron. It’s great to meet you!

  13. I’m glad to meet you! I want to meet many poets now after nearly three years of being back in it.

    The first thing I look for in a poem is rhythm, music, and I heard the music when I read it aloud. I see similarities to my post on my writing, “pour it out” and “my writing will reflect me
    it will reflect my life” is to me what poetry is basically about. Good work!

  14. First I would like to thank you for not only reading something I wrote, but to follow my blog as well. I am new to the writing world and even newer to blogging. I have been checking out our site here and I must say that I am very impressed and hope that I can become half as good. I look forward to your future work. Thank you again, any advice you may have, I am more than willing to listen.

    • You’re welcome and thank you, Tony! 🙂 The best advice I can give is exactly what I was told by a much more successful writer than me – he said read voraciously and write daily or turn writing into a habit. The more you write, the better you become. I’ve also found that writing becomes such a habit that it’s almost impossible to stop. It’s great to meet you!

  15. May I say something without sounding impertinent? (It is not even my place to comment here since I am nowhere near published or with even a hope of being so, and I have very little experience).
    I guess it is human nature to feel slighted or miffed or even angry when an editor or a publisher writes something cutting. I would have probably exploded, probably written back an angry mail or letter destroying him/her for the perfidy. But, since I am free with my words elsewhere 🙂 let me say this. The very fact that it was not a by-rote rejection letter shows that he/she is looking for potential in you or urging you to go in a particular direction. Of course, it is left to you to reject it. The person might be a complete ass, for all you know. However, i don’t see what is to be gained by raging over that or by even getting back with a poem. I don’t really know what that person intended while writing to you. But that personal touch, even an unkind one, instead of a canned response seems to me to be sort of an encouraging sign. (plus, if you have managed to rile/frustrate them that much, then you are headed in the right direction, one would suppose).

    Secondly, putting it out here, brings it to the notice of other potential editors and publishers who might then be wary of writing to you at all. And, I happen to think, this is a greater concern. I am sure you meant no harm, but with fragile egos, impatience with a million submissions and mostly mediocre work to deal with on a daily basis, I am doubtful whether they would look kindly upon any criticism of their tribe.

    In hindsight, I suppose, it would have been better to write a nice letter to the editor without at all sounding miffed and thanking him/her for the advice and possibly even explain why you could not accept it wholly. That would have left an entirely favourable impression in their mind and then if you had published that here in turn, it would have felt absolutely tactful and kind (Look who is talking!!! My wife seems to be staring at me, wondering if I have taken some calming pills).

    Lastly, why does anyone write? For oneself sounds like a truism, but I wonder at times if it isn’t because we crave appreciation for our efforts or to be recognized for our talents. Then, in that case, writing for public consumption doesn’t sound all that bad. No one would offer the advice that a person has to change himself/herself and his/her writing style in order to be commercial. But they are probably asking one to refine it.

    Honestly, I know that this comment will be quite unpopular and I have put my foot in it already, and my mouth is too large but not so large to hold two feet 🙂
    Do forgive me the perfidy (Hark! Hark!) and forgive me if this comment offends you. I would love to see you published on a grander scale and I sincerely hope that you move on to greater things. I am the least mature person on earth ever and I happen to have a fierce temper, so this advice might seem a lot like hypocrisy. But heck, why not, if you have a chance at getting published, why not pretend to be suave and polite and a perfect gentleman, John? Even if the editor is a total ass. 🙂
    I hope you don’t burn me to death for this. Write another poem dissing me, by all means 🙂 But do forgive me if I sounded a little too familiar or free with my unsolicited advice 🙂

    • First, I want to insist that your comment was in no way taken as insulting, derogatory or deemed to be snarky, unsolicited advice. I welcome any and all feedback here. It comes with the territory. If I choose to put my writing out here on a public blog then I must be willing to accept any and all feedback whether good or bad.

      Honestly, I didn’t necessarily feel slighted or even miffed with this particular editor. There may have been the normal “oh crap” sinking feeling of another rejection showing up in the inbox but, since this email included some advice, I accepted it much more gladly than the other bad news I’ve received from editors which has always come as a form-letter/email. I think the response I had came about as result of weeks of thinking about what I had been told in that email. For instance, to be bold: anyone who is willing to write anything that is so personal as poetry tends to be, then sends it to complete strangers for their acceptance or rejection is pretty bold. Constantly, we hear how swamped literary journals and magazines are with submissions which tells me that there are an awful lot of bold (or brave) writers out there who are either gluttons for punishment or who are at least opening themselves up to some potentially harsh realities.

      The advice that struck me hardest was being told to write for public consumption. If I’m writing a novel and going through the typical process (research, outline, draft, revise, revise, research, revise, etc.) it can become less about the author and more about story, content, characters, plot points and the like. Poetry is personal. If it’s not, it’s going to be missing the very elements that make it poetic. If I asked someone to write for an audience rather than to write their truest, deepest emotions and feelings, I would be doing them a terrible disservice. It was this advice that I stewed over for a while before first just writing a poem. After I had finished it, I decided to post it but as a separate page rather than a normal blog post.

      There is a risk here that I could alienate editors all over the world, sure. Sending in a submission means telling them about my blog which they are very likely to read or at least check into briefly. If they see this it could mean that they’re going to be turned off. But wasn’t one of the points of the rejection email to be bold? If an editor feels as though I’m simply too “in your face” I can live with that. Besides, any editor is going to be at least somewhat subjective in their choices. I have seen some poems published in magazines and journals that had me scratching my head asking what separates that particular poem as good enough, and I’m sure there are any number of others out there who have had the same experience.

      All any poet can do, is write from the deepest places. If the work is good enough the writer can hope someone will publish it to the rest of the world. But along the way, there is such a thing as bad advice and, frankly, anger. I was told I should be bold and so I took the boldest stroke I knew how to take. If this particular editor has read this it’s doubtful they even know it’s directed “at them” anyway. In the event that they do recognize the advice they gave me, it’s possible that I have burned a bridge. Maybe by having this page up here I cause some editors to be uneasy about who I am or what I represent. I would hope, however, that they’re better editors than that and that they would judge my submission before they attempt to use this page or even this blog entire to judge me as a person.

      I don’t see immaturity in your comment in the least nor do I see hypocrisy. I’m glad you commented and spoke your mind. I was wondering if anyone was going to come along one day on this page and call me out anyway. lol You did and that’s fine with me. I owed you a response if for no other reason than the fact that your comment is BY FAR the longest comment left on this blog in its 13-month existence. lol!! Thanks for taking the time to comment and, oh by the way, if you’re the editor of a journal or magazine…just look at the work and don’t judge the person writing it because if you’re going to judge me as a person when you see anger in my writing, even when directed at editors or one editor in particular, then you’re never going to like me. Anger is a great motivator for writing and it’s one of my favorite tones in poetry. It can’t all be about love and it might just HAVE to be about an editor. lol!

      It’s great to meet you!

      • Good heavens, me an editor? No thank you 🙂
        And thanks for not chewing me apart.

        Yes, those sentences do describe what you felt and I am glad you put those here in your reply. I can see you point about poetry. (In fact, I have been harping about bad poetry in my pretty young blog the last few days and how I just cannot understand poetry anymore.. sorry, no disrespect to you at all or to other poets 🙂 just my observation).

        Reading this reply, most editors might not be miffed at all 🙂 Rational and controlled and to-the-point is what they will assume 🙂 So it is a good thing, after all.

        And I completely agree with you that the writing, the art, the work must be acknowledged rather than the person behind it. Thank god, someone else agrees with me. I have been raging about that forever. The world has come to accept it as the Law. Well, I am glad we have a few things in common 🙂

  16. Let’s hope they’re not too miffed. lol And I agree it’s always great to find things in common. 🙂

  17. Pour it out! I feel my own cowardice in your rejection letter; heavily censoring that which may offend my still-living mother, my Muslim/Christian/Jewish/religious clients, random queer activist; the list goes on. I look forward to your brave storm of ideas.

  18. Some of the best writing comes out when we are pissed off! Go for it! Say your truth. That’s what interesting writing is and also….critics, whatever, don’t listen to them. Be yourself and frak negative feedback. Art is art. It deserves respect for the attempt and just doing it.

    I think with 10,000 followers, you have many that would think the feedback was bull poopy! 😀

    • Thank you, Deborah! 🙂 I agree that anger is a great motivator just like love, loss, illness, stress. Say it and say it your way and if there are other who like it, they’ll come to read it, or in this case publish it in their journal. It’s all a matter of opinion (even among editors) and we know everyone has opinions and most of them stink. lol It’s great to meet you!

  19. We have all been there and all told the same thing…”write so others can understand”. I don’t know where that thinking started but it goes against the heart and meaning of poetry. This is the problem with our society, isn’t it? We are so concerned with using words to please and not offend others that some don’t even know what truth is. My truth may not be your truth but we can listen to each other and make our own personal decisions. No one can tell us what we should feel. Your words are touching someone and that’s all that matters. Keep writing for you. It’s all we can do. I am enjoying reading your words.

    • Thank you, Alicia! 🙂 If I take the advice provided in the rejection to write boldly then I can only write what I know, what I feel and what is a part of me. That’s not writing for someone else but writing for myself. Each of us has an individual truth. It’s what makes us, us. I agree with you totally. It’s great to meet you!

  20. Maybe he thought you write rubbish poetry, and believed, using his experience/knowledge, others would too?

  21. Dr. Suess-Zues Zen

    Embrace it, and then leave it behind, for there are many more loves and hates to embrace.

    You wouldn’t want to miss them, would you?


  22. I took a class and received feedback from an agent in it. Since it wasn’t an actual query, it really was just advice and she was kind. I was heart broken because I believed in what I had given her. It was the beginning I had for 15 years. I said I was going to stop writing. I had given up. But then one day I couldn’t get those first pages out of my head and I started over. I wrote four different beginnings and each of them told the same story. I just had to decide which way I wanted to go. Other people from my class have had the same problem. They are having trouble getting started again. In our case, we paid for the advice we got and it was friendly, but no less devastating. I think our feedback was different, but the emotions are the same. So I do understand what you mean. I have and continually do pick up novels looking to see how they start. Agents and publishers seem to want something specific, but when you actually look at the books out there, there is no formula.

    Which brings me to this. There is no one right thing for poetry, at least in my opinion. There is a difference between poetry and novel/story writing to me though. A story can be missing things. A lot of the times we have the story in our head and because we know something we do not convey it. There can be holes. Poetry if a feeling though. It’s a flow of words. One poem can tell me one story and another person hears/reads something different. It’s like music.

    Don’t let this get you down. I’ve enjoyed your writing! Good luck!

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 I found a list one day of some of the best known authors in history and their rejection histories. It was pretty amazing. I agree that a novel requires certain elements including a beginning, middle and ending while a poem just calls for the writer to pour everything they have into it. Of course, that doesn’t make for good poetry in many cases. There are editors looking for traditional poetry while others aren’t. That’s normally pretty obvious by reading the previously published pieces in their journals/magazines. Not to mention that what we like and dislike is completely subjective. Any writer has to hang in there and do what they do best but to always strive to improve.

      It’s great to meet you!

      • Completely subjective! That’s what I was trying to say. ;o) For a writer, sometimes my brain is everywhere else and I cant’ find the words I want to say.
        Poetry is so subjective. I read all types of poetry and I enjoy all of it, but I realize to someone who is professional, they’d probably tell me I am wrong, but I love that poetry is all heart! When I read poetry I feel like you said, the writer is pouring all they have into it.
        I’m looking forward to reading more of your work! Great to meet you too!

  23. Hi John, thanks for following me, and I’ll return the favor. Love meeting fellow writers, especially poets.

  24. It’s a great piece of advice. Thank you for sharing. I am also struggling with my passion for creative writing.

    • Thank you, Rashid. 🙂 It can be a struggle to write though I’ve found the more I write, even if I write badly, the better it gets. There are times I force myself to write just anything to get myself started. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

  25. Before I go further, I haven’t been published but can only imagine it’s one of the most personal rejections there are. Jobs are not personal, just tick boxes. That said I can see to a smaller degree your anger etc, and rightly so. It’s taken me 20yrs almost to write again after finding all my early stuff in the bin shredded. Good on you for fighting back:)

    • Thank you, Ailsa! 🙂 I’ve heard from and read comments from writers or even from editors that rejection isn’t personal but I’ve always felt it is. If someone puts their all into something they’ve written, a piece of them is in it too. To reject it means that that person or that part of them has been rejected. However, if my work wasn’t up to par then I have to redouble my efforts as I go back to the drawing board.

      It’s great news that you’ve begun writing again. Don’t lose that passion. Writing is the best therapy I’ve ever had and I would venture a guess that it can help almost anyone through life’s most difficult times. Stick with it.

      All the best!

  26. The very thought of how you feel almost makes me grimace with rage! I look at this one way, you have a gift, a talent, that I’m sure other’s have reviewed with you at some time or another, and with that knowledge I believe that you will be heard and accepted at the right time! We live in a fickle world where because some have obtained their goals or life’s ambitions, the rest of us should bow!
    Stay the you that you are, good thing’s come to those who wait. I know, I’ve been there!
    Best wishes.

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 History is filled with those who were rejected time and time again only to achieve a lot later. All art is subjective and will either be accepted or rejected by anyone reading it. What I submitted likely just didn’t measure up and I failed in convincing them that my work was worthy of publication. Now it’s simply about redoubling my efforts to improve while I wait until I feel what I’m writing is ready for submission. All the best to you. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

      • I believe you are a capable and worthy writer, but I have noticed some of these magazines/publishers, refuse our writing and when you read some of their articles you have to wonder what the hell is going on?
        Stay as you are and be you as I’m not convinced you have failed nothing!
        These people are very picky and quite frankly, we the “little”, people don’t get a look in.
        Keep smiling, you’re worth it!

  27. Did you ever stop to think that maybe Tejaswi was the editor, I know he said no but…hmmm! I know a young woman who was critiqued and told she couldn’t sing, she goes by the name of Taylor Swift! I say Shake if Off, always follow your gut instinct as it is the correct one and write as you feel it. Of course it does help to vent and rid yourself of that poison that sits inside eating away at your soul…journey on!

    • Thank you, Deb! 🙂 I suppose it’s possible that Tejaswi was either the editor I dealt with or an editor in general. The reason I wrote this was to let out the frustrations of rejection while also attempting to live up to the advice I was given. This is the result. It’s hard to let go of the poison of rejection but it’s something I’m working on. It’s great to meet you!

      • Thanks John, it’s a pleasure to meet you too!! I so understand your actions and I hope it helped you. You’ve probably read this before but I just love it so I wanted to share…”The one who wanders independent in the world, free from opinions and viewpoints, does not grasp them and enter into disputations and arguments. As the lotus rises on its stalk unsoiled by the mud and the water, so the wise one speaks of peace and is unstained by the opinions of the world.” – Buddha

  28. During my stint as Poetry Editor for a college magazine I had the task of deciding what would and would not be published (with the input of other poetry lovers, of course). I took this task very seriously and offered to meet with anyone who didn’t make the cut so we could discuss ways the poet might improve his/her writing. I received dozens of bad poems from one fellow and anything he resubmitted was no better. I despised all the rejections I put him through, because it HURTS! Congratulations, John – you’re using your rejection in a constructive way.

    • Thank you! 🙂 It’s great that you offered your time and effort to talk to each writer about their rejected poems. That shows an interest in them. Rejections normally come in form emails with nothing other than “we will not be publishing your poems at this time good luck.” I applaud you for taking the time to work with those writers.

  29. Dear John,

    Once I heard I story about Beethoven interpretation of the first few notes of his famous fifth symphony. It was said that such an impetuous first notes represented destiny knocking at a man’s door. It should not come as a surprise judging by his life. His life was pepper with difficulties since very early on from growing up with an abusive father to loosing his hearing at the pinnacle of his career. The question is how do we respond when such moments knock at our doors? There is something about the human spirit and our desires to push forward and never give up. As a man of faith when such calling is at my door all I can do is to run and embrace it because I know that no pain is unredeemable. That out of pain, out failures good can always come out.

    Well my friend, don’t give up! A renew focus be what you needed and that letter might have served as the catalyst, as you can see with your response!!!! Keep on writing and keep on trying…because one day I want a signed copy of your Poetry Book.



    • Thank you, Caleb! 🙂 You’re right and I think everyone has to fail before they can truly succeed. Getting knocked down or rejected is just a part of the process. If I ever publish a book I promise you will be one of the first to get a signed copy. 🙂

  30. Thank you for following my blog. I came here to check out your blog! Wow, yes…the critic is so harsh and none so much as ourselves. In the end somehow, in some strange way we come to thank the critic. Because without him we would not be so fired up to prove him wrong. As I too have learned, the mainstream publishing world is cold and heartless. I was just talking to my husband today as to why artist’s create. They create to express THEMSELVES… not necesssarily to make money. Sure money is a nice bonus, don’t get me wrong. But locked into a contract…you would be a slave. 🙂 You are free!

    • You’re welcome and thank you for dropping in, Esther! 🙂 Critics are entitled to their opinions especially since all writing and all art is so subjective. That’s easy to accept. There are times, though, that you ask yourself what you need to do or what you need to write to be accepted. Still, rejection can light a fire under someone and bring out their best work. It does feel good to be free too. 😀 It’s great to meet you!

  31. First I wanted to thank you for liking my fairy tale. When I saw you’d liked something that I wrote I felt like I’d achieved something… a writer, liking me, a beginner! So thank you for hitting that like button, John,

    Now I want to say that I loved this poem. And thank you for the story behind it. I loved that you used the publisher’s “critique” in your poem and then focused on answering each of them with truth, spirit, and flair. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

    • You’re welcome, of course and thank you for dropping by! 🙂 The great part of blogging here is the support of writers. I enjoy following writers of any and all stripes and it’s been eye opening to interact with each of them.

      That rejection sat in my inbox for weeks after I received and read it. I suppose I was stewing over it for awhile though I knew that the advice I was being given was solid. Finally, one day, I sat down to respond. It has lit a fire under me and now I’m just waiting for the time I ignite and begin to put all of that advice into practice on a regular basis.

  32. Great post. I am a novelist with my share of rejections. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep writing. Keep querying. Persistence is the key.

  33. Yes, a criticism can stick, stay with you. I have wondered why it stays so much longer than praise, why it has so many sharp edges and HAS to be addressed. My worse rejection – ‘they’re good but not good enough’ was years ago and I’ve never forgotten. I rationalised it. Everyone sees/reads things differently and I’ve found that this is true. But, as you found some criticism hits the spot.

    • Thank you! 🙂 You’re right. Criticism lingers with us but it can also motivate us to improve and to work harder. Any praise can often be dismissed as someone just being kind though that is, in most cases, as sincere as criticism. Let’s grab on to the praise and be motivated by the criticism. It’s great to meet you!

  34. I don’t think anyone can predetermine what editors (or publishers) are looking for. Though I was surprised at the comments you received. You can’t always tell what will make a good poem either… some that you might think were weak could get more attention than another that you thought was stronger… possibly because others read more into it. Wish you luck.

    • Thank you! 🙂 I agree that it’s hard if not impossible to know what anyone will like or dislike until they’ve read it. And editors may be looking for very specific types of poetry and what was sent in just doesn’t fit. Often, it’s a matter of putting together the submission and sitting back with my fingers crossed. 😉

  35. I think I just fell in love with you! As a matter of coincidence or perhaps fate, I happened to receive my first rejection letter today; yes, my first time submitting anything for publication and then I happened upon your blog and found this piece. I feel so inspired right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. ❤ I wasn't really expecting my piece to be approved; it was more a right of passage for me and a taking of that first step. I'm actually excited that I got a response that didn't say, "it sucks!" 🙂 Thank you again for adding fuel to my fire!

    • Thank you! 🙂 ❤ Rejection (unfortunately) is a part of the process. The more you write, the more you submit, the more rejections you receive and, soon, like me, you'll be able to wallpaper your room with rejection letters and emails. 😉 But don't give up. Mixed in with the rejection letters will be the occasional acceptance email. Hang in there. Keep writing. Don't let them stop you. It's great to meet you!

  36. While I believe in (and practice) writing for oneself, I think it helps to keep “public consumption” in mind in the sense of trying to see what you’ve written through the eyes of others. I’ve often written lines that I considered on the money at the time, but after setting aside what I’ve written long enough to come back to it cold, I sometimes find that it doesn’t connect as I intended, or was overly clever, too opaque for its own good, etc. In short, write the first draft for yourself, walk away and come back later as a stranger. Of my hundreds of published poems and other writings, I can think of few that didn’t benefit from that kind of self-editing.

    • Thank you! 🙂 That’s an excellent idea. The editing process isn’t as effective soon after the piece is written since you’re still so close to the words on the page. That time away and the separation will help you to see it as a stranger disconnected from the original emotions used while writing it.

  37. The more rejections the better. Writers learn from rejections.

  38. I agree. Write for you. It’s your words, your therapy, your feelings and emotions. No one has the right to judge or correct. Someone will appreciate them. Someone will connect with them. I have found that it is all perspective. That publisher just couldn’t relate to your perspective.. And yes, this is what fuels our fires! When I posted one of my first essays in October, it was the first writing I had shared publicly, and I received some critism. That was a tough lesson. I will say it made me look at critiquing different. I am glad that you continue to write and grow! Thank you for sharing.

  39. Great Response! Thanks for sharing it. Getting a crappy review/ harsh criticism is the worst. The words sting. Brene Brown said something to the effect of not listening to anyone who doesn’t have a stake in the game – so, if the critic isn’t out there making work of their own, only criticizing others, then don’t even consider it, I’d like to add that even if they do have a stake in the game, some critics are just dicks and still aren’t worth your time. Good for you for turning something hurtful into something nourishing! I’m looking forward to reading more of your work here; so far I’m really digging what you’re up to.

    • Thank you, Anna Marie! 🙂 I’ve often thought that writers write and critics critique. It’s a bit like the adage that those who can do and those who can’t teach. However, I’ve torn apart a lot of my writing and realized that I have been deficient in a lot of areas so I’ve begun some courses to start the new year that I hope will put me on track. Some criticism is helpful no matter how much it hurts and it can help to guide us to improvements we had no idea were possible. Here’s to a great 2016 for writers everywhere and the toughest choices ever for editors everywhere! 😉 It’s great to meet you!

  40. I just write because if I don’t get it out of my head, it becomes larger than myself and spills out in uncontrolled frustration. If I don’t write it down it’ll consume me. I will never write for you. I can only write what I know anyway. limited or vast as that may be, it’s still only inside of me. I can’t practice what I am. I can only be what I am. That will or won’t be enough for some and too much for others. so be it. I am relentless. 🙂 Thank you for this post. HA!

    • Thank you! 🙂 It can consume us if we don’t get it onto the page. Writing is therapy and missing a session can cause a lot of stress and grief. As for writing for yourself…I completely agree. What goes on the page is a part of you after all. 🙂

  41. What a great response. All creative writing has subjective interpretation – poetry especially so. I think you handled it well, but don’t stew on it unnecessarily. “Sod the lot of ’em” is a well worn phrase in my mind. After all “Only you know what is write (sic) for you” 🙂

    • Thank you, Richard! 🙂 Writing has to be done for the writer – a way to get out frustrations, fears, experiences. And because it’s so personal it may or may not rub someone the wrong way. This makes writing subjective. There are times to say, “Sod the lot of ’em.” But I’m also finding there times when I’m coming up short of proper use of literary rules. It’s been a great education for me. 😉 It’s great to meet you!

  42. It’s amazing once we dig down under the dirt that our writing truly starts to become clean. It’s the true grit that gets my attention.
    Best rejection comeback ever.
    fell. Xx.
    (hope you don’t mind but I’m going tweet my comment.)

    • Thank you, Fell! 🙂 I’ve found the technical issues with my writing since I received this rejection and I’m working to correct those. But the notion of writing only for an audience and not within our own heads, for ourselves, as a means of therapy always seemed silly and pointless to me. We can always build on or improve our writing but if we write for others we will never find our own voice or those deepest, darkest places within us that make reading what we write worthwhile. It’s great to meet you!

  43. We get the outline of what was said in the rejection note, but it would be great to see it verbatim.

    I do believe that all art has to be created for an audience, if even an audience of one or for one’s own aesthetic preferences. Haydn certainly wrote his music with his audience in mind, while Beethoven wrote more for his own purposes, but with an aesthetic that was not out of line with the more musical recipients of his audience.

    Write for what you think is right. If you want to get published, you may have to alter your approach — for usually to get published you must write to the publisher’s aesthetics. Important for you to know the purpose of your writing. Is it for self-discovery, to create great art, for self-expression or personal reasons — or for an audience or to be published — or for several of these? First determine what YOU want to achieve and then achieve it. Always be true to yourself.

    • Thank you! 🙂 I’m not sure it would be a good idea to publish the rejection verbatim in order to avoid revealing who it was who sent me the email. However, I’ve gone back and reevaluated my writing and I have found weaknesses that are preventing me from getting published. I want to write what I know, what I feel and what I’ve experienced and in that respect I have to write for myself. On the other hand, I also have to improve my writing on a technical level and that will be the difference in getting accepted.

  44. Absolutely outstanding, and very similar to the response I had when trying to be a songwriter a decade ago. I was advised by Nashville producers to write for public consumption, and I did try, briefly, but it took ALL of the joy out of writing. Not worth it!

    • Thank you! 🙂 I completely agree. If the words on the page aren’t truly yours and if they don’t reflect who and what you are about then they’re completely meaningless. It’s great to meet you!

  45. I really need to share a poem one day – soon. You’ve inspired me. Also, in mainstream land, Fight Song by Platten does wonders…

    • Thank you, Millie! 🙂 It’s a great experience to share your writing publicly and to hear back from others. There’s really nothing like it. It’s great to meet you!

  46. I just noticed in a comment above that you mentioned about writing for yourself. That’s exactly what I’ve started doing, finally, after years of thinking I had to write something that others would approve of. If I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, who’ll enjoy reading it? Time to add that touch of heart & soul 😉

    Anyway thank for the inspiration!!

    • Thanks again, Millie! 🙂 You and so many others who leave comments here also inspire me. Daily. Dig in, write away and share with the world. You’d be amazed at what can happen next. 🙂

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