In September, I finished Clementine. I said to my writing group, “I think I’m done. I think this is the final draft.” And they said, “excellent! Put her out into the world!” So I did.
Out of the 3 chapbook contests I entered, I already know I didn’t win one of them. Another had its deadline extended till the spring, so it’ll be spring/summer before I hear anything. But the third one – the magical, wonderful third one – released its list of finalists and semifinalists over the weekend.
Yup, my baby, my girl, my second chapbook, OH MY DARLING, is in the running!
I am of course beyond excited – BEYOND excited – and I feel a little light-headed just thinking about it. I love this project, my group and my readers have loved this project, I even landed a scholarship to a conference last year off a section of Clementine, but it’s nice to get some outside gratification too. From a publisher no less! A publisher who could be my publisher!
All right, I have to stop. I’m getting too worked up. Anyway, I should find out in the next week or so. Fingers crossed!
(3 posts in 2013 already! Look at me go! As with every other year, I told myself I would be more active here in 2013. So far, I seem to be keeping to that promise. LUCKY YOU!)
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.
I hate it when people ask me, “what’s new?” It’s lazy questioning, like, “tell me about yourself.” What do you say to that? Even when I do have news I always say, “oh, nothing,” because it’s easier than saying, “well, you know, I’m working on a lot of different projects at work – jeez oh man, that other girl messed up the bills GOOD and I had to unravel all of her work, which took me forever, and also there’s this new restaurant that I want to check out and my cat has been barfing a lot, which doesn’t seem normal, but everything else about her is business as usual so I don’t know how worried I should be, and I’m working on a story that has a lot of sex scenes and I’m debating whether I can say penis and still have it be sexy, or if I should say cock or dick, or if that would take it too smutty, and also I’m eating a lot of canned vegetables because the fresh ones are so expensive and we have no money – oh, but the other day I cashed in all my change at CoinStar and got $18! I bought gas! How cool is that!”
Which is just a long, boring way of saying, “oh, nothing.” And who cares. Really – who cares?
The good news is that this is my space and I can be as boring as I want to be and no one has to care except me a year later when I check back on old entries and think, “oh so that’s what I was up to.” The better news is – I do actually have things going on right now, writing-wise.
First of all, I’ve been writing a lot, mostly little snatched moments here and there but actual full-length stories are coming out of it. I worked on a piece last week that was supposed to be about my neighborhood, a love story between me and the city of Pittsburgh, but it turned into something completely different. It turned into a story about a young woman who feels trapped and overwhelmed and questions her choices and wants to escape her life. I stopped short of naming her Cate, at least. And she has a shitty boyfriend – Joe, of course, is not a shitty boyfriend, in case anyone wants to accuse me of writing non-fiction.
I’m also working on a chapbook MS – well, two, but one is being published for sure, which I’m pretty geeked about. Obviously you’ll have to buy the book and support the press if you want to know more. The stories are not about young women who feel trapped and overwhelmed and question their choices and want to escape their lives. I mean, not all of them.
I finally joined a workshop group! It’s not completely in-line with my needs, but it’s awesome and it feels good to read and think about what other people are writing.
I’m reading like a fiend. I discovered Anita Shreve and I am devouring book after book after book.
I haven’t been doing much (ok, fine, any) submitting. In my defense, 2011 has barely gotten started. Also in my defense, I’m entering a piece in a contest, so that’s something. I have lots of rough stories that need some editing and revising and polish and then I’ll have a whole fleet to unleash on the world. Just wait!
I turned 26. I got a job with benefits. I have, if not a plan, at least an idea. I don’t yet feel like a full adult, but damn if I don’t feel like a writer.
And that’s what’s new.