I am not confident in my abilities as a writer or in the possibility that I will ever be published. Oh, I have indulged in a fantasy or two, but nothing too serious. After all, I am a relative newcomer to the writing life. I’ve only recently begun to submit poems to various journals and I’ve completed very few of those. I’ve reworked several poems until they are barely recognizable to me. Then I’ve sent them off alone into the wide world, carrying only the words on their backs. I haven’t obsessed too much over these submissions because frankly, I don’t have the time or energy. My family and work have first claim to those.
I have done precious little writing in the past few months, mostly due to lack of time, but also partly due to a lack of belief in my stories. In January, I wrote a short story as part of a Lit-reactor workshop and I was happy with it. The instructor, a published author, was encouraging in his comments and edits. Then I submitted it anonymously for “First Pages” at a local writers group. The participants were ruthless in their evisceration of my opening page. That experience was enough to make me question my writing (again). Many of you who are writers probably have had similar experiences.
I just completed a six-week writing workshop at the community college, which helped me gain back some confidence. The classes were a mix of practical instruction, writing prompts and sharing our stories aloud. My classmates included a retired journalist, a few self-published writers who specialize in romance and horror genres (not together), and a number of first time writers.
Ginny, our instructor, is a vibrant and funny English professor who has published children’s picture books and young adult novels. She provided valuable critiques in an encouraging manner. Ginny belongs to the same local writers group and she talked about how brutal the “First Pages” experience can be for writers. Her comments reassured the novices in our class but also pointed to the need to develop a thick hide if we are to survive as writers. During the course, her critiques and the positive feedback from my classmates helped to restore some of my confidence. Oh, I’m not saying that I’m ready to face “First Pages” right now, but at least I know that I can write well.
So, back to that email I received. Monday morning was dismal due to several crises at our small company. It was the kind of day when I dreaded opening my in-box. There it was, from The Meadow, a literary journal. I assumed it was another rejection to my poetry submissions, so I didn’t read it at first. Later in the day, I went back to the in-box to read the polite language the editor had chosen to reject my work.
But the subject line read “Acceptance.” Holding my breath, I read on:
I appreciate your submission to our magazine. I am happy to announce The Meadow would like to accept your poem “Rhythm Method” for inclusion in our next issue due out early summer 2014. I need to know by 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) Thursday, March 20th if the poem is still available for publication.
I realize that I am a novice and that many of you reading this have probably received your fair share of acceptance letters. But still, I am excited that someone wants to publish something I wrote! To paraphrase Sally Field, you liked my poem, you really liked my poem!