I just committed my first extremely grievous publishing faux paus today. Or, rather, I was made aware of it. I had one poem accepted for publication by two literary magazines (lets call them x and y) because I failed to alert magazine x immediately when magazine y accepted it. Thankfully, magazine x offered to publish two poems, the offending already-acquired poem and an other one, so if all goes well they will still accept the second. In all actuality I had submitted to magazine x first and was more-than-normally jazzed to receive their offer of acceptance. (Not that I regret in any way getting the offending poem published by someone else).
I am flattered and humbled that more than one publication liked this specific poem. I also know that, in the long run, it’s not like magazine x is really taking any kind of hit to the heart just because they don’t get to publish both poems by little ol’ me. I’m not mortified because of some kind of sense of self-importance where I think I’ve just ruined someone’s life because they don’t get to feature my work in the way that they wanted. If nothing else, it hurts my reputation more than anything. Even that will heal, and probably rather quickly as its not like I have any major reputation to begin with.
What I am ashamed of is that I didn’t take the two seconds to respect the editors of x to the fullest extent of my ability. To me, that’s the most embarrassing. We poets may grime and gripe about the way publishers treat us now and again with form rejection letters, long wait periods and seeming hatred for our ‘budding genius’ (read: undeveloped talent that really needs some developing, or hey in all honestly a horrid poem), but without our publishers where the heck would we be? I’m not just talking about some situation where publishers swoop down their dainty little hands and pluck us starving artists out of the muck like they have all the resources in the world. Most publishers, especially publishers of poetry, are people who are in it for the love of it just as much as the writers are. Which means there is not much else profit but that love and appreciation for them as well. They put in countless hours reading through all types of poetry- from brilliant to mind-fumblingly mundane- then have to be the bearers of both awesome and terrible news alike. They get the brunt of responses both indignant and pompous. Then they put it all together, more hours and more work that they are least likely to get paid well for just to give us poets some kind of platform to share our work in the hopes that we’ll build resumes large enough to feed our families (oh, who am I kidding I’ll be lucky to pay one bill! the fun is more in the pride of being able to say, with the power of credentials, that I am a ‘poet’!). They put in all this work for me and my peers, and I can’t even bother to mark down correctly what I sent and to whom?
I’m not saying I think that this is the end of the world. Do I think magazine x will still accept the second poem in good faith? I have no idea, honestly, but I hope so. Do I think this is the end of my poetry career? Of course not. Do I think apologizing to the internet in general excuses my rude behavior? No, and this is why I apologized to magazine x as well. Do I think my mistake is somewhat inexcusable Of course not, everyone makes mistakes, looses track of time, gets busy etc. So why am I posting this huge rant about it? Because I think it’s important to remember. I think it’s important to remind my fellow poets. I think it’s important to remind myself.
Mark your submissions well, and respect the editors you submit to as much as you wish to be respected!
But don’t beat yourself up if you do mess up- there’s plenty of room to learn.