Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16: Secret Visitor, Publication, Rejection

In spring 1909, Elwyn drew upon his experiences with the secret visitor in his bedroom and wrote a poem, "To a Mouse."  The budding author, not yet ten years old, bravely sent the poem to Woman's Home Companion.  To his astonishment and delight, they accepted it for publication--and even awarded him a prize for it.

E. B. White published his first poem in a national magazine when he was nine-years-old.  Nine.  He won his first writing prize when he was nine-years-old.  Nine.  That's pretty impressive.  I could be snarky and say that the standards for acceptance must have been fairly low.  I could be even snarkier and say that it was only Woman's Home Companion, which sounds like the equivalent of Good Housekeeping.  But I'm not going to stoop to such levels.  The thing that sticks out in this whole discussion is that little Elwyn became a nationally published author when he was only four years out of kindergarten.

I didn't publish my first poem in a well-known journal until I was in graduate school.  That would put me about, oh, almost 17 or 18 years behind E. B. White.  Not that I'm competing.  I'm not.  Really.  I can't wait to find out when White published his first book.  He was probably all of twelve or thirteen.  A late bloomer.

I used to be really lucky.  For a while, every poem I sent out received an acceptance.  It was kind of crazy.  I submitted my first book of poems to one publisher.  One.  And it was accepted.  Like I said, crazy.  Of course, that streak ended quite a while ago.  In the past few years, I haven't been very successful in the acceptance department.  One or two poems, here and there.

That comes with the territory if you're a poet.  I had a student once ask me for the most important advice I'd give to any aspiring writer.  My answer:  "Get used to rejection.  A lot of it."  Poetry is an ego-bruising endeavor.

Thank God I've developed such a thick skin.

Now, if you'll excuse Saint Marty, he's going to curl into a fetal position and suck his thumb for a while.

Get used to feeling like this...

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