Back when I was a happy-go-lucky MFA student with no cares in the world and no idea how horrible it would be to graduate and leave the MFA community – however infuriating it was at times – behind, a member of my thesis board suggested that I take up blogging. Of course I was already blogging, lonesome egomaniac that I am, but he really encouraged me to keep it up. Good for discipline! Keep yourself sharp!
I don’t remember how much I followed his advice (sharp!) and I’m too lazy to go check (discipline!), but I’m sure it wasn’t a lot back then and it’s not much now. In my defense, I have been writing a fair bit elsewhere. Also in my defense, so what?
I came across this blog post recently (ish) and it struck a chord with me:
I have a very controversial opinion that has made me somewhat unpopular among my writer friends and it is this: if you don’t subscribe to at least five lit journals while you’re trying to get published in lit journals, then you’re a literary parasite.
— Wendy Wimmer, Why writers are parasites… (emphasis original)
So, on the one hand, I take real exception to her flippancy regarding reasons why writers don’t, in her opinion, support the journals they submit to. Some of us are not typing away on Mac Books. Some of us do not have a $4 hipster latte budget. Some of us receive food stamps. You know? Maybe Wendy is doing awesome and her life is great – good for her! – but her asshole attitude really bugs me. Maybe it’s not her opinion that makes her unpopular, maybe it’s the jerky way she makes people who are poor feel like shit for being poor. (And aren’t writers supposed to be ridiculously, stupidly poor? Isn’t this the lifestyle?)
On the other hand – oh my god, am I a parasite? I mean, I read things online, but is that enough? Am I one of the spoiled, unsupportive, entitled writers she’s talking about? I don’t want to be a parasite! Wendy, forgive me!
Now I’m being flip, but it did spur me to look at all of the calls for submissions I’d tagged as possibilities and look into what subscriptions cost. It’s possible this grew into an Excel spreadsheet. That’s how I roll! There are, of course, more journals I want to subscribe to than I can afford, but Christmas is coming…
I got my first rejection of 2011! Actually my only rejection of 2011. For the only story I submitted in 2011. Writing a lot, editing a bit, submitting almost not at all. Anyway, Fairy Tale Review will not be taking my story, but I did get a very, very nice rejection out of it. This is the second time I’ve gotten a warm rejection of this story – “The Wild Boy,” one of my heavily reworked Thesis stories – from a journal I like, so hopefully that’s a good sign. It’s a completely different beast from the one that appeared in my collection. A better beast.
We’ll see where he ends up. Maybe 2012 is my year?
The last great book I read was Serena, by Ron Rash. I’d read another of his novels, Saints at the River, and liked it but didn’t love it. Serena I loved. I loved the way Rash evokes place, and the way Serena goes from a little odd to discomfiting to whole-heartedly evil. I loved the language of the book. It was a great read.
My book should be coming out soon! Soon! Eventually! When it does I will throw a huge party celebrating myself and the whole world is invited. My mom bought, like, 10 copies and I assume she’s going to pass them out to the relatives and, oh boy, won’t they all be surprised to find that one story is non-stop sex, dirty graphic sex, start to finish? My dad, I think, will not be able to read this book. I think it will be like that summer when I wore a bathing suit top that was perhaps a bit low-cut and he refused to look in my direction. Sorry, Dad. Maybe let’s skip this one? Maybe let’s have a vanilla ice cream cone? Maybe let’s say I’m still a virgin, I have never so much as thought about kissing a boy?
I’m working on a new piece! A long piece. My ultimate goal is chapbook. FICTION CHAPBOOK. Why are there so few little presses who will take on fiction manuscripts? Where’s the love? How come poets get to have all the fun? I am determined to conquer this market and show everyone the error of their ways. Fiction chapbook revolution!
Anyway, this new piece. I’m pretty excited about it. Preliminary readings by other people have been really positive. Somehow I tripped into this workshop group that is intensely uplifting and supportive and insightful. It’s split between poems and prose in our little group, and I have to say getting feedback from poets is really awesome. We’re maybe not so different, all of us writers.
In December, I’ll have been out of the MFA program for two years. Two years! You know I could have taken up to six years to finish and I did it in 2.5? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I wish I could go back in time and smack myself. Ooh, I would give myself such a talking-to!
“Young lady, go to your room! And don’t come out except to write or go to class or get a book from the library or meet interesting people! I mean it!”
Hindsight, 20/20, etc.