The Possible Poet – blog by Stephanie Arsoska

A Year of Submissions: The power of Yes and No. 

It’s easy to say writing is littered with rejection and we need to get used to it. It’s not so easy to practice the fine art of dealing with the word ‘No’. When I started my ‘Year of Submissions’ I knew I was setting myself up for a year of rejection more than a year of success. If I am lucky, the odd yes will be scattered in there but mostly it’s going to be no. I tell myself this is OK, this is part of the process and it doesn’t mean anything, but it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that my heart follows my head.

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of rejections, including a big one that I really rather wanted, and I have had one acceptance – also a big one that I really wanted. I wanted to reflect on what these meant for me and what I think ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ mean for writers in general. This is what I came up with.

What Yes Means:

  • One person likes your work

What No Means:

  • One person doesn’t like your work.

What Yes Doesn’t Mean:

  • You’re magically immune from all further knocks of confidence.
  • You’ve made it! Congratulations, pass go and collect your £200.
  • Everything else you’ve done must be shit because this is the only thing anyone has ever liked.

What No Doesn’t Mean:

  • You’re shit.
  • You’re a horrible person.
  • No one likes you.
  • Burn all your work.
  • Stop Writing.
  • No really, just stop, it’s embarrassing.

Writing is such a subjective creature, and I’ve read plenty of published poetry that personally I do not like. It doesn’t mean it isn’t good or that I am wrong – it just means I don’t like it. Some of my rejected work isn’t good enough, and it’s good to know that too. I want to get better this year, that is my goal. Seeing what gets chosen and what doesn’t helps me know which direction to push.  But one person’s ‘no’ can’t be the end of the road for any of us, if it means anything at all it means keep going, just keep going.



Stephanie Arsoska lives on the east coast of Scotland with her husband and two children. She originally trained as an actor before gaining a BA Hons in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.  She has worked extensively in theatre and education, and trained to be a Drama Teacher in 2005. More recently she gained a post
graduate certificate in Physical Theatre from Royal Holloway University.

Stephanie writes at her own blog Beautiful Misbehaviour where she runs a monthly virtual open mic night for mothers to perform their creative writing without the need of a babysitter. She was featured in Word Bohemia’s first quarterly journal and in February 2014 she will have a poem published by the Emma Press in their Anthology on Motherhood.

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