Journal of the Day: Paperbark

From the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with the School of Earth and Sustainability, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the UMass Libraries comes Paperbark Literary Magazine. It has a very clean and modern-looking website and a compelling mission:

Paperbark Literary Magazine is an expression of the intellectual and artistic currents working to shape collective consciousness about issues of sustainability in the information age. Born in New England, Paperbark draws on the unique heritage and culture of the region to support and stimulate creative engagement with progressive ideas. Rooted in themes of stewardship, innovation, and possibility, Paperbark’s content is motivated by a desire to trace the connections between science, culture, and sustainability. Paperbark lives at the confluence of imagination and critical inquiry, and is an integral tool for the promotion of sustainability initiatives on the University of Massachusetts campus. The magazine strives to illuminate the impacts of human society while nurturing our intrinsic capacity to catalyze positive change.”

Check them out. Send them love!

Revising after Rejection: Re-Seeing, Re-Listening, Re-Hearing

Like most necessary things, writing is hard.  Communicating mental images or flashes of memory or triggering smells with tools that are, themselves, none of those things, takes work.  Doing so in ways that makes sense not just to you but also to readers takes even more work. 

I submitted some things to a great journal a few months ago.  Even though the work I shared wasn’t ultimately accepted, I’m quite pleased with the feedback.  Having given myself some time and space, I’ve come back to the piece they particularly liked with new eyes and ears.  (Revision is always, literally, re-seeing.  But it’s also re-listening and re-hearing.)

I greatly appreciate what the editor here is saying, and the time he took to say it, and the time he and the rest of the team take thinking deeply on these things:

We are writing with mixed news. While we are not accepting these poems, your submission made it through multiple editorial rounds. We particularly enjoyed “[title redacted]” with its exploration of anxiety and attempts at self-soothing. Our main concern, ultimately, was that there were moments when the piece felt too expository. We’d love to see the entire piece rooted in the wild imagery of the last third of the poem.

We recognize how much talent and skill went in to your submission, but we can only publish a small percentage of the work we receive. In the final round of selections, we start looking for the smallest of reasons–reasons in line with our own personal tastes–to reject a manuscript. This part of the process, we understand, is so very subjective. So we want you to know that while we are not accepting this manuscript, we were pleased with your submission, it was a joy to read, and we hope we’ll see more of your work in the future.

Acceptance and Rejection on April Fool’s Day/Palm Sunday

Yesterday, I got two or three rejection emails for short stories I’m trying to place.  On Facebook, I asked my writer friends if there was any chance those mags were having some April Fool’s Day fun with us.  Truth be told, I don’t take rejections seriously or personally.  The stories have been through the processes they’ve needed to go through before I sent them out.  I love them and believe in them.  I know they’ll find a place in the world.

Then I got to thinking about how I might have felt if I’d gotten acceptance letters yesterday instead.  There’s a certain foreboding, isn’t there, in Palm Sunday adulation?