Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's personal

Dear Jessica:

While I really enjoyed your essay, and found much to admire in your writing, I've decided to pass on this submission.

Please feel free to submit to us again. I'd love to see more of your writing.

All the best, Editor

When I first started submitting my work for publication beyond the local alt-weekly, a personal rejection like this had me flying for days. The guest editor from Smokelong thinks my characters are strong! A Narrative editor is asking to see more of my writing! The folks at Swink and Booth think I should keep submitting to them! Even Brevity, one of my top favorite journals, rejected me with a lengthy paragraph about how my essay had made it to the final round! The editor told me not to lose heart about this "close-but-no-cigar" news because, after all, they receive a large number of excellent submissions, and just can't publish them all.

It felt validating to know that editors had taken the time to carve out a note to me personally, to offer words of encouragement. The editor at Revolution House, who recently rejected my Cuba Libre essay, actually said that she was sure I would find a home for the piece soon. Sure enough, Recess Magazine accepted it just a few days later. So, yes, there are some victories folks. But. Not enough.

Each time I click on an email, subject line RE: SUBMISSION, my heart flutters with disappointment as soon as I see how short it is. I've now submitted many pieces to many, many places, and my "Submissions" folder weighs heavier and heavier with "thanks, but..." The personal rejections are starting to feel like cruel jokes. Why, if they like my writing, if they want to read more of it, won't they just publish "The Cave"? It's the title, isn't it? "The Cave"... how lame.

I'm starting to lose heart. This week alone I've been personally rejected by Hunger Mountain, Literary Mama, and, just this morning, as my peanut butter and honey toast swirled uneasily in my stomach, I clicked on a very prompt reply from an editor at Salon, my dream destination. She enjoyed reading my piece! But it's not quite right for their purposes. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

So I strapped my fussy baby to my chest. I stripped the sheets from our bed and by the time I loaded them into the washer, Mallory was nearly asleep. I love feeling the warm weight of her body against me. I love sniffing the sweet-smelling fuzz on her head, the scrape of her tiny fingernails on my chest.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In other news...

I've neglected my blog for a few weeks, mostly because of my inability to find a suitable topic to pursue that is outside the realm of motherhood. I don't want to become someone who can ONLY write about things like breastfeeding and whether or not to vaccinate our newborn. I don't want to be a mom whose entire world is her baby. So I toyed around with some topics--

1. Obama finally supports same-sex marriage! It's about time! Way to go! To those who still oppose it: it's not gay people who are threatening the institution by wanting in on it, it's young straight people who are marrying less than ever before. If anything, same-sex marriage can only help to save marriage from becoming obsolete!

2. Why I love having cable, after a decade without: Leslie Knope, of Parks and Rec, who is my all-time favorite TV character, who is impossible to watch without smiling, who delightfully proves that people are always more than the sum total of their ideologies.

  3. How to save money: walk everywhere, always take home leftovers, take advantage of the library, split meals at restaurants, go shopping in your own closet, pick flowers in the neighborhood instead of buying them from Trader Joe's, grow your own salad greens, let the sun dry your clothing...

4. The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga, the best novel I've read in a long time. If you want to laugh AND ache, learn all about modern India, feel the kinship of a beloved narrator who is both a servant and a murderer, get swept into a furiously-driven plot that is impossible to put down... then don't delay. Get this book now!--

but nothing seemed meaty enough for a post all its own.

In essence, spring is treating me very well (save the awful allergies), as M and I go mad with planting (dahlias, begonias, arugula, sage, gypsy peppers, to name just a few) and Mallory, our little blossom, continues to delight us. At nine weeks, she coos and screeches and plays with her tongue. She weighs ten pounds, twelve ounces. She tracks us with her eyes when we leave the room, and wants, more than anything, to be close. It really is like falling in love... and so, even though this post isn't about her, everything else is. And for now, that's just fine with me.