Tuesday morning I checked my email just as class was starting and was greeted by a long-awaited response from a literary magazine. Since I figured it was yet another rejection, I considered leaving it alone until after the lecture, but compelled by curiosity, I went ahead and read it.
Imagine my surprise when I found the words: “We love your poem and would like to publish it in the next issue!”
Wait, what? You want to what? My poem . . . Seriously?
Six months ago, I sent a prose poem that I wrote in September to that particular literary magazine. Only that one. I didn’t have high expectations. I’m no stranger to literary magazines. Or to getting rejected by them. And since it was the first poem that I was brave enough to submit, this was my way of testing the waters. My way of stepping into the realm of being a poet. (If you know me at all, you know I have struggled with the idea of calling myself a poet for a long time.)
I have been trying to publish a short story on and off for three years. Fiction has always been my alleged ‘strength’ — not poetry. But my short story has been rejected more times than I care to count (let me check the amount of saved rejection letters in my inbox), and yet, I sent one poem to one literary magazine — thinking it was just a way of stepping out of my shell — and it was accepted on the first attempt. The irony is not lost on me, that the first piece of my writing that I will get to see in print is a poem.
Alas, let this be a lesson to all aspiring writers. Keep going. Keep throwing yourself out there. The rejections will continue to come, but you never know when there may be a letter of acceptance thrown in the mix. It may be the one thing you never expected to see in print. It may be a step in a direction you never thought to go. It may even be a poem.
But write on, friends. Write on. And never give up.