In January of this year, I was lucky enough to have a book of my poetry published. The honor came as quite a shock to me. I’d been incredibly busy with school and on a whim had sent off some poems I’d been working on for about three years to a press with an open submission period. Really, I was just done working on them. I didn’t feel I had time to commit to writing them anymore and I thought they could maybe stand alone. I also submitted some newer poetry (yeah, right, who am I kidding, I’m going to write whether I’m busy or not) to the same press for a separate contest submission period.
When I heard back, the first email I got was a rejection letter: “Sorry, your poems don’t fit with our press.” I was disappointed, these poems were about veterinary parasites; what’s not to love? Really, I was more disappointed that I hadn’t blended my two disciplines of science and poetry better, more completely, enough that they were worthy of publication. I forgot about the book I had submitted, my older poems, scientific, too, but in a different way—not veterinary, but environmental. A day later I got a second email from the press: “We would like to publish your book.” I was elated! Still disappointed that my parasites hadn’t made the editors feel something, even if just some wiggling in squeamish bellies, but ecstatic that my work would be going out into the world, even as I was not in the world but crammed in a study room frantically trying to catch up to the spring semester of my third year of vet school.
This proved to me that my work was worth doing and that blending disciplines would help me later when I need to communicate my knowledge to the general public. The rejection probably taught me more than the acceptance. My parasite poems were too clinical, not “understandable” enough, and I needed to revise them to make them accessible and still keep the science. My older poems were from a time when I had a less specific scientific focus, and so, more easily digested, made of less jargon, or, if jargon-y, those words were explained well enough. Overall, the excitement about my book came at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and like I had lost some of my hobbies to the vet school machine. It really gave me the spark to keep up the things that make me happy in addition to the things that will further my profession and keep me doing a job that makes me happy too. Now, instead of leaving one for the other, I can’t wait to continue my writing career alongside my veterinary one!