The publications that accepted my work, mostly with volunteer editors and small circulations, printed my poems as I had created them.
Then, an editor of a well-regarded, nationally-circulated magazine wrote a conditional acceptance: "If you change this line this way, we’ll publish it."
Gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair, stomping of feet. How dare he challenge the perfection of my creation? Would he ask Van Gogh to add a brush stroke to Sunflowers? He wanted me to change my materpiece?! He must take my idea, my creation, as is, in toto, or not have it at all!
I wish I could report that I started within minutes, even hours, to respond thoughtfully rather than to react emotionally. It took days.
I felt forced to choose between two opposites: the sanctity of my creation and the utilitarian requirements of bringing my creation to others.
I wanted my art, my poem, to be of value to others. By that definition of value, unpublished, my poem had no value.
My heart goes out to VT KnowledgeWorks entrepreneurs who make successful pitches to investors, then hear the caveat that they must accept this or that change to the idea or to the business plan.
I made some of the changes the editor requested and resubmitted the poem. The editor replied with a request for changes to my modifications.
I thought the editor and I were simply vying for power and control. I stewed over his knowing I needed him more than he needed me. He would have the ego-gratifying last say.
I’m not proud of my inability to, at the time, see the editor’s point of view.
As the poet/inventor/entrepreneur, I was in the invention-making business, but the editor/investor was in the money-making business. The editor needed my poem to be part of a portfolio (the pieces in the magazine) that, based on market research (subscribers and retail sales), would generate revenue. He couldn’t back me or my poem/invention if, in his view, the product I offered was sub-par or sub-optimal.
I made the changes.
The poem was published.
When I reread the poem today, I cannot remember which line was changed.