I GOT A CONTRACT! I GOT A CONTRACT! I GOT A CONTRACT!
HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!
(sung to this tune)
Don't you love how I'm subtle like that? And modest.
Highlights sent me a contract for another poem! I was very surprised. Out of the five poems I've sold, I've only been really sure about one of them when I sent it off. The lines came when I was in the shower (away from my darling children). I wrote the poem as soon as I'd gotten out and knew I had something. "The Letter O" is still my favorite of the poems I've sold, but most of my favorites have been rejected for being "too sophisticated" or because they might be confusing for small children. Sometimes, I agree with the editor, and sometimes I don't. Tell me I'm not the only one who has to exert extreme self-control not to throw a temper tantrum every time I get a rejection. Rejections bite. And it can take days for the teeth marks to fade.
So, besides my lovely contract, I also got a rejection in the mail today from a different magazine. I read "The Dusty Dragon" to my children to see if there were flaws I'd missed earlier, but I still love it. I felt the same way about "The Bubble Gum Queen" last year. Editors didn't say why they'd rejected either one, and I think they are the best children's poems I've written.
My ratio for the year is currently at 18 rejections:2 contracts. I only submitted 15 times this year versus 33 times last year. I've spent more time this year focusing on finishing a novel, and, not only did I finish a rough draft, I'm hoping to finish my second draft by the end of this month. Yet, this is the first year I've had two contracts for poems. Cool. But weird.
This is also the first poem I've sold to my current editor. When I first started submitting to Highlights, in 2006, I sent my submissions to Marileta Robinson (among many other things, Marileta writes The Timbertoes for Highlights). I hadn't been submitting long before I realized Marileta was a gem among editors. Even when she rejected my work (which was often), she wrote encouraging notes on my manuscripts. Sometimes all she wrote was "Try us again!" Sometimes she told me what she'd like to see or why she wasn't interested in what I'd sent or how excited she was about the artwork she'd seen for something of mine that was about to be published. I have received a grand total of ONE written note from an editor who didn't work at Highlights. An editor at a publishing house wrote a note to say she'd really liked the picture book I'd submitted, but she didn't have room for it. Most editors send form letters. They don't have time to encourage or guide people who submit their work. I understand this. And I really appreciate the time Marileta took to write all of those notes. So when she wrote me a note in July, telling me she was retiring and to send my submissions to Kathleen Hayes, I worried a little. I worried until I sent Kathleen my first submission, and she sent back a really nice letter--with her phone number--explaining why my submission wasn't right for them and telling me she was excited to work with me. Exactly what I needed.
This is getting long, so I'm going to leave you with a song: