Since high school, even before moving to Grove City for my senior year, I have dreamed of / wanted to be a writer and have hammered away at it in different ways over the years. Mainly in poetry. Then one gets caught up in the ‘day job’ and family and house and other hectic stuff and so on which is easy to use as an excuse for NOT DOING WHAT MAY REALLY MATTER and puts bigger dreams on back burner, going to that burner from time to time to ‘brew a tea of words’…trying hard to get it to taste just right and not too hot or too cool, but not turning that undying dream into a day to day reaching up, that permanent longing to be satisfied. How many dreams in people get stamped down enough that they are almost forgotten. Sacrificed to what we all call getting on with life.
Now with lots of ‘free time’ on my hands in retirement, I’m trying to deal with that particular entry on my bucket list (which isn’t long by the way). I am reading lots of poetry, trying to find what I like, what moves me, what styles I prefer, what ideas and pointers others can give me, seeking advice of the ‘masters’ via interviews and online classes, editing and polishing things I’ve written long before or recently, still getting the inspiration to scratch out new poems too, and researching the whole process of getting something published in a magazine that specializes in my particular type of poetry. There are books and magazines and YouTube videos to help one with this effort. I do think that by this time in my life I have an idea of what’s ‘good’, or at least what shows some mastery of the art and the craft (it IS both, like everything else) and truly believe I can produce a high quality ‘product’ and have even done so more than once. But there’s that “eye of the beholder” thing about what is beauty and what is something we think we want to put in OUR publication that can be quite the obstacle.
So, being aware of the ticking clock and calendar pages turning, and feeling like it’s now or never I’ve sent five poems (most place’s maximum for magazine submissions of poetry) to publications I think may be interested. I’ve already gotten what’s known as the infamous ‘rejection slip’ that so many artists have gotten over centuries from two of five places. The other three are yet to respond and there are many other possible publishers out there. So there’s hope, I guess. And beyond that, the professional advice is to expect and even appreciate (!!??) these rejections. To use them to make you try even harder…to dig in and push on. Which as I think of it, is very similar to what coaches tell football players who get knocked back on their butts in practice…essentially telling them to get back up and shake it off, that it’ll just make them stronger and better and smarter as players. “It’ll make a man of you.” So, finally, I’m becoming a man, I guess. In the world of poetry, where rejections hurt just as much as a knee to the gut on the gridiron, I would venture to say.
I’m fine about keeping on doing this until I ‘strike gold’. My dog and my wife and my daughter still love me no matter what happens…no matter what an invisible editor somewhere says and thinks.