Whats with all the editor hate????

1 Oct

I was sitting at work surveying my twitter when this article from The Poetry Foundation flashed by.Since I am attempting to be a working poet and am constantly sending work to Editors I thought this would be interesting. Boy was I right.

The original essay by David Lee, former editor of Ploughshares, sort of blew my mind. Obviously I realized that people get pissed when their work is rejected. There have been a few times when I have received a rejection letter for my favorite poems and I’ve though They don’t know what they’re missing.  Never have I ever nor will I ever send an editor dog shit or death threats. This is incredible! My fellow writers out here…Would you do something like this?

When I receive a rejection I personally do nothing. I have been considering recently sending editors thank you notes for reviewing my notes (after reading this I think  I will!). Do you respond to rejections? I can understand a person sending a letter why the work was rejected, asking if there were specific areas in which they could improve. But to blame someone so severely for not choosing to publish your work is obscene. I am not personally an editor and while I’ve done some reading work and was even Poetry manger for my high school literary magazine Calliope but hearing these kinds of things does make me wonder why people continue to do it. I see the draw, creating a magazine for the market you feel is over looked by the others, giving yourself the opportunity to be apart of the poetry community (read All Poets Welcome by Daniel Kane) and certainly I’ve considered it but when people begin to get hateful and cruel what do you do? Especially when your intentions are all for the best. What steps do you take? Do you pack it in or keep on fighting and getting the work you want to be heard out there?

The other thing this essay made me think is, how often do I send out work that just isn’t quite ready yet? How often do I push something as far as I believe it can go and then have it be rejected? Would I know if that was the reason it was rejected. Lee makes the great point that what a rejection should do is push us back to the work and really question what the reasons are that it was rejected. But how often does it really? In my MFA program we are constantly told to submit and I have been trying to push myself to send work out. If I feel in this moment that I can’t touch it any more…send it out. The space might give me ideas for things I want to change. But rarely do I ever go back and look at the work that was rejected, at least not to revise it. To some degree I imagine that 10% of my problem is that I haven’t found the right market for my work yet and I often wish that Editors had the time to say Here is why we didn’t accept your work or It wasn’t right for us but here are some journals who might like it…But I know this is impossible. That in the sea of the slush pile I am just another fish. And I always try to imagine an Editor reading my work and just sitting down to write me a handwritten note about my work or something encouraging but being pulled away before its done.

Mostly I just wish that everyone would remember that we’re all human beings here. We all get our hearts broken when people don’t accept the things we have taken the energy to craft but that doesn’t give us the right to abuse each other. Where is the love? In your next submission thank the editor for reading your work. Or send a thank you card for having them read your work. Whats the worst it could do?


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