Peppered throughout my ballyhooed blog history are apologetic posts packed with reasons why I haven’t posted in a long time: laziness, giving birth to a human child, wine, more laziness. And yes, you are about to dip your toes into my depthless well of remorse once again. You might want to take your socks off for this one.
The date stamp on my most recent post tells me that it’s been over a year since I added anything to my blog, and that what I added was actually a reprint from my zine. Mon dieu! I am bringing blog neglect to heights not seen since stumbling upon pages that still shimmy and blink with Geocities-era graphics.
|Not my site, but I am a supporter of cute boys.|
Although--real talk--my blog format is firmly stuck in the early 2000s. Much like my belief that we just passed the turn of the millennium and I am still a fresh-faced lady in my mid-thirties.
My reasons for blog neglect are legion, but can mostly be summed up in a big hunk of good news: my 2018 publication bonanza!
Since January, I have published eight pieces in various literary journals and websites (now conveniently listed under “My Other Crud” heading to the right of this post). After many years--so many years, of toiling in obscurity--I am now toiling in slightly less obscurity. I began submitting work for publication back in the pre-new millennium ages when I had to actually print out a hard copy of my story, jam it into an unforgivingly slim envelope along with my self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE, if you’re nasty) and hand it over to the U.S. postal worker with a hopeful gleam in my eye. For nineteen (!!!!!!!) years, all I had to show for my efforts was a purple velvet journal filled with quotes from my rejection letters, the binding cracking from the few rejections with personalized feedback that I folded into the middle of its pages.
Oh, how I dined out on my rejections with feedback.
I took a pause from the submission life around the time that online literary magazines and submission platforms began to spring to life. I made peace with the fact that I would most likely continue my writing life without ever publishing a word beyond the music and book reviews I wrote for now defunct papers. I finished the novel that had been burning a hole in my brain since I picked up my Pilot Precise v5. At least I accomplished that even if it would languish on a floppy disc. But the stories didn’t stop.
I stopped submitting but I never stopped writing.
I entered the zine-ing world and found much joy from finally seeing my words in print and getting feedback from readers. The apex of my zine joy was when a woman approached me at the grocery store. She had read my zine and my blog about miscarriage (a blog with the Geocities of blog names: the Peabody Project Chronicles 2: Experiences in Pregnancy After Miscarriage). My words had helped her get through some rough times. I walked away from the conversation almost breathless with joy. I had connected with someone, maybe even helped them find a moment of comfort. That’s what it’s all about. (Don’t think I didn’t try to jam a Hokey Pokey joke in there.)
The reformation of my writing group marked the official restart to my publishing attempts. I made a spreadsheet. I googled. I found the Entropy "Where to Submit" list. I polished my cover letters and I started to send my word assortments into the world.
My first unsolicited acceptance came from The Rumpus on an essay I almost didn’t send because I thought it was too odd and silly for such a venerated literary website. I got the acceptance early in the morning in June when we had relatives staying with us. I read the email on my phone in the darkness of the living room while everyone in the house was still asleep. My first thought was “Wow! This is the nicest rejection I’ve received yet!” Then as I clicked away to check on Facebook, a question lodged in my mind. Was that actually a rejection? I clicked back. I re-read the email. I still didn’t believe my eyes. Quickly I logged into my Submittable account and clicked on the Accepted tab and my essay, “The Butt Song” winked back at me. I almost yelled to wake up the entire household.
When publication day arrived, I refreshed The Rumpus website every few minutes even though my editor, the fabulous Eileen G’Sell, told me she would let me know when it was posted. During my lunch break, the message arrived. My essay was up. The first thought that went through my mind after I read her message: This is it. The final moments before this new adventure begins. These are my final pre-publication moments. Savor them, lady.
Grandiose? Oh yes. I actually laughed out loud at myself as I rounded the corner to my office. I put some of the blame on being in the thick of reading David Sedaris’ Diaries (which are as spectacular as everything else that pours from his pen) and his description of the way his life changed in the wake of the publication of “TheSantaland Diaries.” One day he’s dreaming about being interviewed by Terry Gross, the next he’s thanking Terry on-air in the WHYY studios.
Although Terry has yet to come a-calling, I have upped my publication rate by over 100% in a single year. I have no illusions that this is an upward trajectory. It’s feast or famine. I could very well never see another word of mine in digital print.
The best part of publication bonanza 2018 has been making connections with other writers and being able to share my work with the friends and family who have always supported me and this solitary thing I do. Before a story is posted I always feel a little jittery, afraid that I have revealed something about myself that I didn’t realize or that I have left an errant “true” name in a story. But mostly I feel excited. Excited to share, excited to connect, and excited to get back to the composition book to see what comes next.