Posted by: Viola | February 11, 2015

After 5 rejections, one YES!

Last year, I wanted to challenge myself and put more of my writing out into the world. I took on the poetry contest submission machine and sent my work out to about seven different places. I started over the summer and continued into the fall. As the months went by, I heard back from contest after contest. My poems and essays were being rejected. One rejection message after the other trickled into my inbox. It was disheartening. But I kept at it.

Late in the fall, I stopped submitting my work and took a break. It was actually tough taking a break. I wanted to keep sending things out. I put together a chapbook manuscript (my second chapbook manuscript). I also put together a short manuscript for the Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. However, I decided to not send out any of these manuscripts–primarily because I was tired and overwhelmed. I stopped working on these submissions and focused on the manuscript I was planning to finish by the end of the year. So that was that. I have yet to hear back from two places I sent my work to last year. Perhaps by the spring I will hear back. Other than the two contests that haven’t responded yet, all the others have sent me rejection notices. 😦

In January, I decided to send my work out to one or two places. I settled on a call for entries to the Prairie Schooner blog (the literary journal at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln). They wanted submissions on the topic of “women and the global imagination” (a literary project they are organizing). It sounded interesting, and I thought I could write a piece for it. In January, I was also working on some research for several poems I am doing for the Chibok girls (at the request of the editor-in-chief at the African Book Review).

One cold afternoon in January, reeling from the news of Boko Haram’s attacks on a town called Baga in northeastern Nigeria, I wrote out an article that highlighted all the things I was learning as I researched the kidnapped girls. I submitted the article, as the deadline approached, with only a few more hours to go. It was so hurried. I almost missed the deadline. I really didn’t feel finished with the essay, but I knew that the girls were a great part of the global conversations last year about women, education, and terrorism. They were right up there in the news, as was Malala and her experience of terrorism in Pakistan.

Today, I got an email from the editor of the Prairie Schooner blog. They love the article and want to publish it! I am so thrilled. I am thinking about the Chibok girls and their plight. And I am honored to add my voice to the *Bring Back Our Girls* movement and #BringBackOurGirls campaign. I am grateful to the African Book Review for suggesting I look into writing about the girls. Writing about them has expanded my knowledge of what is going on in Nigeria and Cameroon, as terrorists unleash a nightmare of loss and chaos there.

I cannot go to Nigeria or Cameroon and fight terrorism on the ground. But I want to speak out and speak up. And remember those who are faced directly with this nightmare. I hope that it will come to an end soon. I want it to stop. Life is precious and fragile. Women and girls and their communities and their educations are critical to everything beautiful in my homeland. I want the violence to be stopped. Until it is (and even after it is), I will continue to write and speak and yell, until my voice goes out.



  1. Reblogged this on Bay Area Adventures at and commented:

    • Thank you for the re-blog!

  2. Congratulations!

    • Thanks so much! One good day today and hopefully more to come. I just checked out your page and love your artwork. Great work! Beautiful paintings. Someday, when I am brave enough, I will take up painting (or at least, give it a try). 🙂

  3. Congratulations! Persistence does pay!

  4. […] the TOM HOWARD/MARGARET REID POETRY CONTEST. It was one of the seven (or was it eight?) contests I submitted my poems to last year. I submitted two of my best poems to the contest, and today I received an […]

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