FORTUNATELY/UNFORTUNATELY: A Celebration of Submission Responses, June to mid-August 2019


Friends know I submit a lot because I talk about it a lot. Now maybe five* more friends, (THANKS, READERS!) who live farther away, and don’t talk with me as much, will know too. I’ve mentioned that my rejections have been improving lately. Each nice rejection thrills and disappoints me.

Here’s the June-mid-August tally:

30 submissions.

(Only a few of the responses that follow correspond to this batch of


20 rejections. (1 was making finalist in a chapbook contest. A first.)

8 acceptances.

–1 10-minute play. (Please, come, Seattle friends!)

A ten minute-minute play reading, ACCIDENTALLY at Drunken Owl Theatre 8/18/2019, The Parliament Tavern, 4210 SW Admiral Way, Seattle, WA 98116

–6 poems. (1 comes out in a 2020 anthology. 1 is for private use. Here are the other 4.)

–1 article.

1 nice letter responding to me sharing a poem (not for submission), included below.

1 generous rejection suggesting other places to submit to, both of which did accept poems. Hey, Editors/artistic directors! This would be a REALLY LOVELY BEHAVIOR TO ADOPT! You, too, could be spreading the love.

1 funny comment, in a rejection, that my poems sparked a lot of conversation.


Except for me changing all journals into XYZ, here—straight from emails and in chronological order, and varying from the bland-and-standard to the short-and-sweet—are the Texts of Ambivalence and the Texts of Certainty:

“Our editors have given your work careful consideration and decided it’s not a fit for this issue.”

“The editorial group felt that it wasn’t quite right for this magazine but wanted to thank you very much for being a part of our XYZ readership – and submitting your writing to us …  That is always a hard thing to do and we value all our submissions and appreciate you letting us have a chance to read it.”

“We are sorry that your work was not selected for publication this year. The editors read every submission, and our acceptances must be agreed upon unanimously. We received many exceptional poems and had to make difficult choices.”

“Thank you for sending us your poems. We appreciate the chance to read them. Unfortunately, we’ve decided to pass this time … I did however, want to include a personal note and let you know that “…” and “…” came close. You may want to check out XYZ or XYZ for those poems. They’ve both published some of my work in the past and I think they might be a good potential fit for you … Thanks again. Best of luck with this.”

“Thank you for your submission. I’d like to accept ‘Spring Rends Hearts’ for publication in early July.”

Your manuscript made it through two rounds of readers; unfortunately, it was not selected as a finalist this year … Our finalist manuscripts are currently in the hands of our judge, and we’ll announce the winner on our website later this month … Wishing you all the best …”

“Pamela – … I will gladly use “Last Desires” and “What You Could See.” In fact, I have already posted “Last Desires” Thanks so much for entrusting me with your work. I plan to post the second poem in the next 3 or 4 days and will reach out again when that happens.”

“… unfortunately, your poems were not selected to be passed on to the finalist round. We appreciate that you think enough of our magazine to have shared your poetry with us, and we wish you all the best with your work. To view the winners and finalists, visit our website or social media sites next week … We hope to see your work again soon–our general submissions are currently open …”

“We are taking “We Dream of the Dead…”

“While we won’t be using this piece, I do hope you’ll submit more work to XYZ in the future.”

“After a careful review of your submission, we have decided that it is not quite right for the journal at this time. Journals are subjective creatures with desires often mysterious even to their own editors, and we encourage you to keep submitting. We’d love to see more work from you … Best wishes placing your work elsewhere, and we hope to hear from you again soon!

“Unfortunately, we will not be including it in the next issue of XYZ … We appreciate the time you took to send us your work, and wish you luck in placing it elsewhere.”

This is so wonderful, Pamela. You made my day! Keep fallowing, and THANK YOU.

         An erasure poem from NYT’s “You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing                     Anything” By Bonnie Tsui
This summer
be not the ant
Argue for
fallow time
Fallow time is
invisible labor
a wandering out
a practice
Fallow time is
a nap
a blank space
Work against
antlike tendencies
Push aside
the overwhelming
Think real thoughts
Lie dormant

“Unfortunately, we have decided to pass here, but we hope to see you around XYZ again. It’s a privilege to read your work.”

“We didn’t find a poem in this group that fits just right for our upcoming issues, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to consider your submission.”

“While we enjoyed your submission and appreciate your interest in our publication, unfortunately, it doesn’t fit our needs at this time.”

“Just read it: I love it. We’ll read it this month if you’ll be there.”

“We’d like you to know that overall, your piece was well-received by our reading committee. They have some comments and notes listed below. We hope you find them helpful as you continue to revise or resubmit your piece elsewhere … The writing itself was clean and simple … With another revision to clarify the story line, this story could be of interest … We’d love to feature your work in our XYZ feature when it’s published elsewhere.”

“Good morning! I hope this finds you well … I regret to inform you that your submission for our 2019 season has not been selected as a finalist. We received over 1400 submissions this year so our task was monumental and meant that some work we really loved still could not make the cut … We exist to work with emerging playwrights, like yourself, and encourage you to submit again next year.”

“Unfortunately, your play has not been selected to be part of this year’s publication. We hope you’ll keep an eye out for more XYZ submission opportunities in the future.”

“Unfortunately, we will not be publishing the piece you submitted, but we wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.”

“… 2019 XYZ Finalist: …. § DEAD/NOT DEAD by Pamela Carter … In the event that your work has not been accepted for publication by next spring, we encourage you to resubmit your manuscript to our contest. Many past XYZ chapbook winners have entered this chapbook contest one or more times prior to winning … Thank you once again for your entry, and the best of luck with your future work.”

“This is not the direction [we are] seeking.”

“While we ultimately decided to pass on these, we want to let you know that these poems did spark a lot of discussion among the staff.”

YES!!!!!!!! … totally sweet, funny and meaningful.

“While this particular work wasn’t quite what we’re looking for, we were impressed by your writing and voice … We wish you the best in placing the work elsewhere and want nothing but the best for all your future writing endeavors. In short, we’re open to seeing more work in the future and you are invited to come and party with us anytime.”


* This number is optimistic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s