OH MY DARLING is officially available for pre-sale! Jeez, that feels exciting to say! Of course it’s all been building toward this, but thinking about my little Clementine as a real book, out there in the world, for people to purchase…! It’s like having an attack of the vapors, exactly the attack is MY LIFE.
I can’t say much about the process, because this is my first real book and I have little to compare it to, but it’s been pretty awesome. The folks at Black Lawrence have been pretty great to us, and I’m glad that that’s where Clementine has found her home.
In other news, I recently submitted my third piece of writing to a project attached to Roxane Gay. Never fear, my record remains intact: she still wants nothing to do with me or my writing. Which is fine! All is well in the universe! She is a very kind reject-er, at least, and it gives something to aim for…someday…
Recently I read two comics, which is outside of my usual scope, but they came with a Story Bundle. The first, Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince, is a collection of very sweet, very short little relationship scenes. It felt very familiar, and I enjoyed it very much. The second, Buffalo Speedway by Yehudi Mercado, follows a group of pizza delivery boys through an incredibly wild night, and what wild night would be complete without death, explosions, sabotage, sex and personal discovery. My husband delivered pizzas in college, and confirmed that the experiences of those characters were exactly true to life. Who knew!
Can’t believe I forgot to mention this in the last post! I got my first rejection of 2013 recently! First of many, I am hoping, since I have been such an unforgivable slacker when it’s come to submitting work in the past, oh, three years and have only recently (very recently) decided to start playing that game again. I celebrated my decision with submitting a flash piece, and the universe celebrated my triumphant return by telling me to give it up and go home. Jokes! Just jokes! But, jokes aside, I am back to living it up in the slush pile.
So, good for me! One down, 100 million to go!
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.
Another rejection – this time from Booth, who had my story for-EVER but not long enough to fall in love with it. Ho hum. I did, however, get a fantastically kind rejection letter along with some really good advice for revising.
They asked me to send something else – something less bad, thanks – which I know is a good thing but also makes me a little crazy because…uh…I just don’t have that much else. A couple random short-shorts and a lot of stories in my head that have yet to make it onto paper.
Say, Universe…this wouldn’t be your way of kicking me in the ass, would it?
Another rejection today: AGNI will not be welcoming my story into its pages with open arms. (Cut to me standing in a violent thunderstorm, shaking my fist at the sky…) They had it a good long time and I began to get my hopes up, but…oh well. These things happen. No respectable writer has an acceptance rate above 10% or so, right? I must get to work on more stories for journals to reject!
June has been a strange month, all told. But it’s coming to an end soon and I suppose that’s good news. If this disgusting heat wave disappears with it, so much the better…
I still feel in a bit of a funk, writing-wise (FRiGG and Camera Obscura both passed on my work – damn!), but as with all funks there are really funky days and there are only semi-funky days.
Yesterday I got Writing Down the Bones in the mail, which several writer friends have recommended to me. Even just reading the foreword makes me feel better, helps me rethink my current mindset (though I imagine a foreword that didn’t make a reader feel excited to read the book would have been scrapped right away). As unmotivated as I have been lately, I do really miss putting pen to paper.
Today I got news that Ireland-based journal The Linnet’s Wings has decided to take one of my Thesis stories for their summer issue. That’s two that have found homes – technically three, but one was submitted/accepted much too early and turned into a completely different story. Anyway: yay! Not a bad way to buoy oneself.
I’m determined to start turning over new leaves in all aspects of my life. I’m leaving the job that leaves me no time and energy, I just bought a car that will take me to exciting new places and I’m getting out into the sunshine more (when there’s sunshine to be found here in Pittsburgh).
So we’ll see where that takes me…
March was a frenzy of activity, writing-wise (I sent out stories to 12 markets), followed by a slumpy, lazy April – in other words, business as usual.
Bad news first: I racked up 7 more rejections for my collection. One of them, from a magazine I really love, was very gracious and encouraging – the sort of rejection that’s not so bad to get. At least it wasn’t a thinly veiled, “wow, you suck!” kind of rejection.
The good news is that I actually did get two pieces accepted. I submitted five little 100-word stories to a contest hosted by the Shady Side Review and, though I didn’t win, they’re going to publish two of the five. That’s some good encouragement right there; those five short-shorts are pretty much all I’ve written (and finished) since I graduated. I have another, full-length piece that’s fully written but still needs a good bit of editing and revision before it’s ready to go out into the world.
Story of my life, right?
Submitting my stories has been kind of frustrating. My thesis took up so much of my time during my last year of school that I really didn’t write anything else, so the only stories I have that I feel confident enough to send around are my 10 thesis stories…and even those are really not ready. There’s a couple stronger ones that I think are publishable, but the rest of them, I’m not so sure. (This is partially rational acceptance and partially overwhelming boredom – I am so damn sick of those 10 stories. I need fresh meat!)
April’s been a wash, so here’s some goals for May. A much shorter list this time because I’m working again and therefore have considerably less free time to spend not-writing…
- CRITIQUE GROUP. For real this time.
- Commit to fiction once a week. Make it a habit. Write something.
- Research children’s markets.
- Revise and submit 3 stories to above-researched markets.
Holy crap on a stick do I miss being in school!