Thursday, July 11, 2013

the distance required

I've been sending out poems, stories and essays for publication. It requires a kind of distance, letting these little loves of mine out into the world. And when I do publish I keep that distance, even though I'm proud and happy to have my work out there. I created them, put in my ideas and images, sat with commas and synonyms, grieved over lost lines but once they're out in the world, they're not mine, they belong to the reader. A strange letting go. Maybe that's the reason I often struggle while sending out my favorite pieces, I don't want to let go. But then I read something in a literary journal that strums all the chords in me and I know I want to be a part of that.

I have one story in particular I've had for years. It IS going out this summer, it is. The way it is currently written there is a bit of an open ending, but I think I have to fix that. I love literary stories that ooze poetry and mysticism, and if they don't end in the traditional narrative arc ending I'm usually okay with that. But I have these two characters that have gone through a hell of a lot and they deserve something. Is a happy ending worth it? After all, it still is an ending.

Another shit thing about submitting work is that I can't focus on my new writing. Submitting work is another energy entirely. I have no problem editing the work I'm sending out, but new work? Forget it. I was on such a good roll with the novel, now I'm treading water back to it, one eye on the work that's going out and a promise to my characters that I haven't forgotten about them.

Summer has been good to me. Just got back from visiting H in Vancouver. Pretty damn perfect. I love his family and friends. I love him. So effn grateful.

I've slipped from my meditation practice the last couple of weeks. Crazy what a difference it makes when I don't take time to go into myself, to that silence. I'm really pretty good about self-care, juicing, sleep, massage, etc. But when I let the meditation falter I'm just not as focused. Getting back to it is always tough, so much mental chatter but when I finally do drop down into that place of silence, presence, everything opens up and it feels like my entire world sighs an exhale.

1 comment:

Marcos said...

I've lost all patience for submitting things. For a few years I chipped away at it, meticulously researching literary journals, preparing manuscripts, including Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelopes, updating my files when a story or poem was rejected and then sending the story out elsewhere. And then, when a work got accepted, half the time I had to go through a haggling process regarding revisions--and only very rarely did I ever feel like the revisions were worthwhile or that they improved the piece (and never did I feel that the piece was substantially improved). Every time I'd get an acceptance letter with "suggested revisions" I'd picture the literary magazine staff I worked with during my University days, and I'd think of how often I felt those staff members had totally missed the point of a piece, or had turned away a gem in favor of fitting in a trite, gimmicky second-person/future tense/flash fiction/language poem piece of junk. And then, after all the effort put into getting a piece accepted--after an average rejection/acceptance rate of something like 10 to 1--the journal would come out and I'd flip through it and feel no commonality with 90% of the other works in it. And it never seemed to make much of a difference, anyway--only very rarely did I ever receive any kind of note or email from a reader who'd liked my piece in such and such a journal. The only thing I've really got to show for all that submission-oriented effort is a dozen dusty writer's copies sitting on my bookshelf untouched for years, and a list of e-journal links (with probably half of those links going dead less than two years after publishing).

So I gave up on submitting, and starting self-publishing. My first self-published zine has sold 800+ copies so far, and that may not be as many copies as a literary journal sells, but it's probably not super far off (I'm talking about copies sold, not copies printed up and given to submitters and University staff, etc.). And I didn't have to go through any of the submission process, which took so much energy and resulted in so much frustration--and often kept me from writing (like it seems to be keeping you from writing).

Anyway, sorry if this comment sounds excessive or ungracious or whiny. I guess I've still got a bit of resentment for the whole "submissions game." Knowing that submitting your pieces takes away from the energy you'd normally have for new writing just makes me a little bit angrier about it all.