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Dear John,

We thank you for letting us consider your poems; but unfortunately, we have to pass on them this time. It is evident in your work that you are interested in the course of humanity and where individualism intersects with society, yet, we feel the overall presentation of the poems do not meet up with our eclectic taste. We hope this rejection does not weaken you but makes you a better writer/poet.

I know some persons are familiar with the details of the above email in their inboxes. Some of the time, it takes one’s energy and even confidence whether one was just starting the journey or not.

I do not remember when I began to write exactly but I remember loving books first (and then food and football) before other things. I read some comic books whose titles I don’t recall now. I had to sneak some of those comics to my Primary School at Ankpa in Kogi State where I had classmates who would peer into them and try to create their own stories from the pictures. It was fun though.

I wrote English essays in High School to improve myself before my final exams. I enlisted the services of Mr. Isaiah Negedu, who helped to spell-check and grammar-check my essays. Those proofreading and editing helped me a lot.

In the University, poetry and stories found themselves on my creative plate. I began to read a lot more poetry and fiction. Print and online publications followed some creative writing workshops I attended; sandwiched between them though have been loads of rejection mails.

I have faint memories of my first rejection mail but it had words that were more or less like several daggers stabbing my fragile literary heart. I was naïve. I wanted to agree with the Editor of the online journal that my poem was not good enough but I got over the disappointment from reading about what some other writers had faced before my own baptism of rejection.

Over the years, I have received many more rejection mails and I have shared my experiences with fellow writers and I have learnt how to take the rejections. I have taken the rejected works and in some cases, passed them on to another literary space; in some other cases, I have reengineered the works and sent them out. It is a process that doesn’t stop. Rejections are pints of determination for writers as blood is to vampires. It is the only way to keep giving, producing work after work and not losing sleep over which editor or journal is rejecting or accepting your works; after all, their duties include those too.

Writing is one crazy job! One day you are inspired by the things you see or the people you interact with and then you pen words on paper or punch away on your keyboard. On another day, you barely have a word to write or type. One day you think that you have written the best work ever and you start dreaming of the Nobel Prize for Literature and another day you are told that is not the case for a reason or two. At this point, you feel like you do not have what it takes to succeed in your craft. You even have nights of sleeplessness and maybe depression. It is basically a choice that we have to make between letting certain disappointments get to us or to let them slide into nothingness, pick ourselves up and go hard again.

I always choose the latter!

Freelance Content Writer. Poet. Story Writer. Teacher. Book Enthusiast. @Ojohnattah on Twitter. John Attah on LinkedIn