Road To First Acceptance

Submitting my poems

As anyone who writes and seeks publication of their poetry will tell you; the process of submitting your work to various journals and online ezines can be a test of resolve and commitment. Most people have to endure far more rejections than acceptances and, although a relative newbie to this game, I’d already read about the exploits of others on social media and was, to some extent, prepared for rejection.

I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable “no thanks” or “sorry but we don’t think this is the right fit for us at this time.”, and when those rejections eventually came in, I found that the editors were, thankfully, very sensitive and polite in their approach. However, when you’ve yet to break your duck it’s hard to resist self doubt and I was anxious to get off the mark.  It’s all good and well writing poems, but as far as I was concerned, I needed that affirmation from other people in the poetry world that my writing was acceptable, bona fide poetry, to get the nod from an editor that ‘yes, this is ok, and we’re going to publish it‘.

Submitting poems can be a frustrating business! (Image: Suzy Hazelwood. Pexels)

I can’t remember exactly how many “No’s” I had before my first “Yes”, I think it was about 30, but I dealt with it by not dwelling on any of them at all. I just focused on the enjoyment of writing my poems and tried to dismiss each rejection with a shrug of the shoulders. I told myself that perhaps it was something to do with the volume of submissions received; or that the editor was reading mine at a bad time; maybe it was the wrong type of poem for that journal. I was happy to tell myself anything that would allow me to dismiss the rejection in my mind and continue writing – I dread the creativity shackles that would inevitably follow if I thought too carefully about why I get rejections! 

When you look at it, it’s a brutal process, but on reading about others going through exactly the same thing, you realise it’s just a part of it, and that you need to hang in there and keep rolling the dice.

(Image: Anna Shvets. Pexels)

My own moment of first acceptance came in March 2022, with the Wildfire Words online ezine run by Howard and Marilyn Timms of Frosted Fire Press. Until 2021, Howard and Marilyn were heavily involved in the organisation of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival , so it was real thrill to have one of my poems accepted and published in their ‘Open Submissions’ section of Wildfire Words.

The poem is called ‘Everyone‘ and I wrote it the previous October after feeling inspired by Brian Cox’s Universe documentary on the BBC. The explanation of how space and time are connected as ‘spacetime’ (in Einstein’s theory of relativity) provided me with the opening motivation and first lines:

Everywhere is a moment, Every time is a space“.

The inspirational kickstart for the poem came from Brian Cox’s ‘Universe’ documentary for the BBC (Image: Pixabay)

From there it developed as a simple reflection about everything and everyone. I’m so pleased, and indeed grateful, that Howard and Marilyn accepted this poem for their ezine, and I’ve since continued to receive other acceptances elsewhere (as well as rejections of course!), news of which will follow on this blog, so hit the ‘Subscribe’ button below for updates.

The poem ‘Everyone‘ can be read on Wildfire Words here:

By Sam Bartle