Monday, May 9, 2011

Poetry, Spreadsheets and Giving Up

I have a rather extensive Excel spreadsheet that I use to track my submissions. I have developed this spreadsheet over time, adding new worksheets to track responses, resubmission requests, markets I might try, postal vs. online submissions, and how many poems I write each month.

Today I added a new worksheet that totals the number of times I've submitted a particular poem since 2009 (when I began submitting) and how many times it's been rejected. I currently have a poem called "How to Handle Bossy People" that I've submitted to 28 markets, four of which are current. The other 24 are rejections. This poem has the most rejections by a lot, the next being a persona poem called "Dies Irae" that's been rejected 14 times. After that, I have five more poems that have been rejected more than 10 times.

My spreadsheet, or evidence that I have far too much time on my hands.

I'm sure not everyone is as obsessed with tracking and numbers as I am. However, I can't help but wonder, how many times do I let a poem get rejected before I decide to stop submitting? Sometimes I just naturally stop submitting a poem because I grow tired of it, but I've also noticed that I've been too hard on some poems. A few have only gotten one or two rejections before I stopped submitting them. But I clearly believe in my "Bossy" poem, since I didn't notice until now. I think it deserves a home. But 24 noes seems like a lot.

Let's say I decide to stop sending this poem out for a while. Should I revise it? Or should I give up completely? What do you do when you notice a pattern of rejection for a particular poem? How many rejections equals giving up? If you revise, how do you approach it? What are your favorite drastic revision techniques?
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