Summer Updates

Posted by maria nazod on Friday, July 16, 2010
So, it has been awhile since I have posted. Sorry for the delinquent lapse in time, folks. Summer is here with a vengeance--most days are in the 80's and 90's. Provincetown is jam-packed with tourists and lined with drag queens. There are shows galore, bars galore, and beaches galore. 

Between all that going on, I recently took a class at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center with Robin Becker. The Work Center was kind enough to offer me a Cape Resident tuition scholarship, which made attendance possible. The weeklong classes were three hours long; intense, rigorous writing exercises were assigned thereafter, everything from strictly rhyming pantoums, to sestinas, to terza rima poems, to odes, to syntactical repetition. You name it, it was assigned. Each morning we would kick off our class by chanting to a drum beat. Miss Becker and her class was a total inspiration. I won't lie--there were moments spent toiling over these assignments in which I seriously was about to give up--they were that tough. But, I forged through. 

 The class ended two weeks ago. I've been up to my ears in polishing drafts ever since. Besides that, I've also begin part-time work for extra pocket money at the enchanting jewelry store, Studio La Sil. The job is as lovely as the boss-lday and proprieter, Leanne Silva. Her work is amazing, and much of it made on the premises. 

Understandably, I've been distracted. On top of it, I've been continuing to send out my new work--after a post-Costa Rica hiatus when I got home in February---I finally got my newest batch of unpublished poems together and have been sending them out. 

Man. I had forgotten just how tough rejection can be; the letters have been piling up like snowdrifts. In my email inbox, the minute I see "Your submission to _______ Literary Journal" in the subject line, I know the news ain't good. The depressing part is, this work I've been submitting is what I've FELT was among some of my strongest yet. My Inner Critic hisses, "Apparently not strong enough," and who knows? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. All I know is this--I've worked and labored and toiled over these poems. They are the best I could do, in this year 2010. Not even one hour ago, I just acquired yet another rejection in my email. I've usually been of the thick-skinned school of thought. I've plucked myself up after the painful fall and kept going. 

Now, after a year in which I've accumulated my goal of obtaining almost 20 publications, want to hear the irony? It's like, the more I find myself receiving some recognition, the more I find my work getting accepted, with each little subsequent rejection (and believe me, they still come), it digs at me a little more than before. Why? Because, I was gaining some writerly sense of self, some feeling of being established. And that's the erratic nature of my field--one second my work is being featured in a prestigious journal like The New York Quarterly, besides established, prestigious poets-- the same literary venue that published Bukowski almost fifty times-- the next moment? I am scrolling through my Excel spreadsheet, typing REJECTED in bold pink font. 

And the frustration sets in. Who GETS published if I don't? Who in this world could possibly work harder than I do? How come they get published--whomever they are--and not me???? 

Ah, the ego is a fragile thing. Truth is, in the past year and a half, I've been rejected 130 times. Twenty of those times, I've been published. I realized, upon reviewing my records, I've a long ways to go before I've sent out 130 times. And as shocking as those stats seem, upon further evaluating, I realized that I get published approximately one in eight times. These aren't terrible odds, seeing that most reputable journals elect to publish between .07 and 4 percent of the submissions that come their way.

Upon commiserating with friend, colleague, and damn good poet, Tanya Jarrett, we decided the wager was on: starting from July 9th on, who could collect the most rejections? This challenge was exactly what I needed; I was sitting in my boyfriend's underwear. It was around noon or so. I was delving into some drafts on my laptop and had just gotten yet ANOTHER rejection, which according to Duotrope's Digest very reliable statistics, was from a pub that SHOULD have accepted me by then. I was just starting to say screw it. Maybe throw in the towel for a little while. 

But you know what? When has Maria Nazos ever given up? And what's wrong with a friendly little self-deprecative competition? It makes light out of clouded circumstance. And besides, it seems to me that the whole problem is that I've been taking myself way too seriously--something that we poets, working in a highly competitive, highly obscure, highly marginalized field, should never, however frequently tend to do. If practiced enough, this ritual of self-effacement could lead a gal to drinking gin at nine AM. 

So, the heat is on. In the spirit of building my own back up, Tanya and I are going head-to-head to see who can collect the most rejections. If my one-in-eight odds are correct, I SHOULD be getting an acceptance sometime soon. 

Tanya, you are so on.   



About Me

Maria Nazos I'm a poet, I just wrote my first book, and I believe in destiny but I sure as hell don't wait for it. Check out my blog for my random thoughts, events, and upcoming workshops.