I had two poems accepted for publication this week and I won't deny that it felt like a major accomplishment. I came back to my writing after almost a week off for the winter holiday (all the kids and other half at home, who can focus on writing) and have to admit I was dragged a bit down seeing two more rejections waiting for me. The editors who added a personal touch to my acceptance the following day were most appreciated.
I've been sending my poems out constantly in the past 6 months or so. Almost as soon as they get rejected I'm sending them out again. Submission portals like Submittable help with this immensely. I am so glad that magazine publishers are moving away from postal submissions, especially as everything I send has to go abroad now. IRCs are an absolute pain in the proverbial.
Electronic submissions are more likely to make their destination and are usually dealt with more quickly. You also have this permanent record of your rejections. I currently have 28 rejections and 2 acceptances in Submittable since 2015. That doesn't count the submissions I made via email or occasionally snail mail.
Although publishing has never been my major goal, I do want to get published. Ten years ago I had my poetry collection published and it was a rush to see the copy in my hands, my name of the cover. I am aiming towards that again, but I dither about how important getting published is to me.
I love getting my work accepted. Some of the joy is getting to put the little mark on my submissions file to show that the poem is no longer available to send out. To add it to my publications list, to know that someone else thinks it is a good piece of writing, but it is a fleeting excitement. Even when I get a copy of the magazine and see the poem in print, it doesn't have that same buzz. The magazine gets read, put on a shelf and forgotten. Getting a collection published or the ultimate goal for me one of my novels published, of course, is a greater prize than a magazine printing, but it's not why I suit up as often as I can.
I believe I get more enjoyment from writing and finishing a poem than from getting them published. When the writing is going well and I find a phrase that is just right, the buzz is much stronger, longer lasting than seeing my work in print. Everytime I reread what I think is a good poem or section of fiction, there is that sense of satisfaction. Of knowing that I have the ability to say what I want, to make it special. Having someone else see that beauty and talent is so reaffirming. I write even when all I see is rejections, month after month. The glimmers of hope last for a long time.
So I keep writing and I keep sending my work out for publication. I submit my novel to the occasional competition or to agents, I make up chapbooks or poetry samples for competitions, I'm finishing up a poetry collection so that can go out to publishers.
I write to be heard, but my first audience is myself. The desire to continue writing has always been with me, it waxes and wanes with the phases of my life, but even when the literary world is saying No, I continue to push on.