On being rejected

I started submitting stuff to poetry magazines this April. I started getting rejections about two weeks later. Coincidence? I think not.

The first time was grim and terrible. It didn’t say anything mean – in fact, it was thoughtful and kind. Nonetheless, I immediately realised everything I had ever produced was awful and that I must stop writing instantly.

The time after that, I only cried a little bit.

The sixth time I thought ‘meh.’

I have also discovered that there are good rejections and bad rejections. Handily, this rejection wiki gives examples of first tier rejections (no to this but we’d be interested in seeing other things by you) and second tier ones (just nooooooo). And it turns out I’ve had some really good – non-form – rejections. I’ve also had some acceptances, which will never become meh (most recently here, for Kevin Reid’s new blog of teeny tiny poems – submit, submit!)

My formula so far: response to rejection=n(rejection)/x, where x=the realisation that an editor is actually another human being who may or may not happen to like something. It could probably be more elegant.



  1. michaeljarvie958 · August 5, 2014

    Weirdly, the first time I actually sent off three of my poems two were accepted so have not been rejected – yet!

    • msnatalieshaw · August 6, 2014

      That’s fantastic – long may this be the case for you. I am currently nursing my wounds after a particularly harrowing rejection (in which some work was shortlisted for a magazine I love – and then rejected). But pleased to have had a couple more acceptances since then. Onwards and upwards!

  2. michaeljarvie958 · August 6, 2014

    Like you my two successes are with Nutshells and Nuggets – will be appearing there on Saturday. Just keep on writing eh.

  3. michaeljarvie958 · August 6, 2014

    My lecturer Bob Beagrie has had work accepted so thought why not submit myself.

  4. msnatalieshaw · August 6, 2014

    Sounds like you should see where else he has work coming out! Anyway, well done again – I’ll have a look on Sat.

  5. msnatalieshaw · August 6, 2014

    PS maybe Lunar Poetry next? http://www.lunarpoetry.co.uk/Submissions.html

  6. michaeljarvie958 · August 7, 2014

    Thanks for the suggestion

  7. john foggin · August 27, 2014

    the first poems I had in a magazine were in The North. I didn’t submit them. One of the editors asked for them. I had no idea that this was such a big deal, and thought, for a while, that I would be published everywhere. I’ve had 3 rejection in the last two weeks. Two perfunctory and one apologetic. All my submissions to Magma have been rejected, but I always get a response that proves they’ve read them.I’ve had a couple of acceptances. My formula….. R:A = 10>8:1 Same applies to comps. Only more so. I take heart from Kim Moore. I really like the look of your page.

    • msnatalieshaw · August 28, 2014

      Hello John and thank you. I was trying to find Kim Moore’s post when I was thinking about rejection but only remembered where I’d come across it a few weeks later. I’ve just had a poem accepted that has previously been rejected by three magazines – some writers I’ve met online seem astonished (and also heartened) by this. I’ve also had poems rejected that have then been shortlisted in competitions.

      Sorry about the perfunctory rejections – your ratio is a lot better than mine (I’m not even going to try and work it out). I’ve had two really lovely rejections from David Caddy at Tears in the Fence but never anything beyond form from Magma. But on the plus side, have just had a second (very speedy) acceptance from Antiphon.

      I loved your Daedalus poem on And Other Poems by the way. And It Snowed For Thirty Years too on Kim Moore’s blog.

  8. globeonmytable · October 27, 2014

    Yay, I know Kevin Reid, met him for real at the Swindon Poetry Festival. I’ll have a look at that blog of mini poems you mentioned.

    • msnatalieshaw · October 27, 2014

      I was at Swindon too! But only for one workshop. Which bits did you get to?

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