Monday, March 19, 2007

Pissed Rigid

It's the first official day of my spring break and I'm sitting in my living room with the blinds still drawn, stewing.

Last week, prompted by the office assistant in charge of updating our faculty information forms, I went back to my vita to add my few new publications. In the meantime, I started to wonder what happened to a few items, such as the poem supposedly accepted to a journal two years ago--no sign of the journal yet, the book review accepted a year and a half ago (again, no contributor's copy), and the batch of poems a former student solicited from me for her own university's mag.

I sent out a flurry of emails, determined to discover what had happened, if anything, to my work. First, I found out by looking at the online version of the book review's journal that, indeed, my piece was published a year ago. My name, however, was misspelled--annoying, since this is a fairly reputable literary journal. I'm assuming that book reviewers don't get contributor's copies; they certainly don't get a contributor's note, nor do they get a more than cursory overlook of their last name. At least I didn't have to delete the line on my vita.

Today, I got a very apologetic email from the editor of the journal that did, in 2003, publish my poem under a new title (they didn't like the old one, which was "Necrophilia," and changed it, probably with my help, to "Grace," but didn't a. inform me that they were indeed publishing it under a new name, or b. send me my contributor's copies). So that's nice--I can add that line in my vita back.

I also got another apologetic email from the former student. Her editor decided not to use my work "this time" but wants me to send again next year. This is what's chapping my hide just a bit. First of all, when I worked for a literary quarterly and we solicited work from an author, our editor did his damndest to select at least one of the poems in the batch for publication, even if, on reflection, he didn't much like them. Second of all, we made sure that we kept in contact with the writer throughout the process. This particular process has been going on since the beginning of last semester, or longer. The editor did not ONCE get in contact with me personally to let me know that a. my stuff wasn't good enough and so b. I could send it elsewhere. And now I'm supposed to want to submit my shit again next year?

Please. PLEASE. I not only feel offended (my stuff wasn't good enough, even--especially!--after solicitation) but annoyed. No. Beyond annoyed. Fried. Pissed. Pissed rigid.

It's one thing to be rejected. It's another to be blown off, forgotten. The least the editor could feel would be a modicum of guilt, a little shame. Something! A little apology. So sorry to get your hopes up and make you send me something, and then to take so long to mull it over in my peabrain.

So I'm sitting here in my living room with a gray cloud floating over my head. I'm sick of sending poetry out to little pissant journals with an inflated sense of their own self importance, waiting as long as a year for it to come back with a standard form or, worse (at this point in the game), a handwritten "note" saying "sorry, try us again next year" or some other claptrap.

Why? Why should I try to "date" you again, moron? It's a failed seduction. You've sent me a come on, so I've put myself out there, and now you've said, Eh, sorry, not interested. In fact, so not interested that you're not worth the time and energy it would take me to reject you. Try me again next year when perhaps I'm more desperate.

Right. And maybe next year I'll have finally grown a set of metaphorical balls on me (sorry, feminist friends) and I'll have better journals to sleep with.

And maybe I'll be writing in a genre that gets more respect (and reading time) than (sorry again, folks) poetry.

1 comment:

Ralph Murre said...

Thanks for saying, so well, what most of us who submit have felt at some point. That it happens to very talented professors, though, is somehow very comforting. I was afraid it was just us schmucks.

Does help you appreciate the editors who do it right, doesn't it?

- R.