And maybe it was you
That lost and broken thing
Always, always you
Crying mutely for attention
Hurt and hurting
The vicious tide of time
Eroding your sense of self
Memory a tricky creature
And no more a friend than an enemy
Sometimes I forget myself and maps of memories superimpose themselves upon the present.
If I continue down this road, a favorite restaurant is there on the right. Alternatively nondescript and garish doors and window walls to businesses wholly foreign to me, save for quick-glimpsed signage and placards, forgotten almost instantly upon reading. Here, a quiet cafe. And here, a tiny used bookstore. Next, a computer repair shop, a furniture store, a sketchy bodega. Sun-drenched storefronts blur as I pass by, a hazy golden film washing everything out. I should reach my destination soon.
I’ve a pocket full of caramels A sweet secret in hand Transporting bits of solace Happier moments Simpler comforts Hidden treasures So long lost Save for brief snippets Olfactory memories Flavored feelings Dancing dreams unlocked Shaken free of time’s dust But for a few seconds Enough
Melancholy melodies The cadence of a life The deep thrum of disappointment reverberating in a hollowed chest The jangling crescendo of shattered dreams The mocking chimes of lost opportunity, tinkling goals never to be realized The steady beat of daily failures The cacophony of discontent
The glorious fall foliage came a bit a late this year, but no less riotous for it. Today brought heavy rains, and the trees shed their leaves beneath the onslaught. How fitting that these leaves, in their last moments before giving up the ghost completely, turn the most vibrant shades of the sun: the bright, buttery yellows of midday, the darkening crimsons of sunset, the trembling oranges of dawn.
All along the rain-soaked sidewalks lay bright halos of gold beneath trees with branches half bare. The city streets boast lush carpets of red and lemon leaves, patterns swept by rain and wind and passing cars.
Sometimes it is the little things, the daily things, the things we so often take for granted, and yet are the most wondrous of all.
A grain of sand A grain of time Irretrievable, lost.
Is this the destiny of being? Why ponder the inevitable? Why must there be a meaning to life? What if there was no meaning? What if there is no purpose to existence?
We exist Because we do. Could we ever possibly leave it Just like that?
Mankind is an anal-retentive species; Everything so specific. Classified. Separated. Recorded. Analyzed. Compartmentalized. Catalogued. Referenced. Cross-referenced. Never-ending processes for categorization. Is it that we want to grasp what we will ultimately lose?
When we cease to be, We cease to be. Irretrievable.
Standing alone, as is my wont, My habit, My being. The way I tend to be, is The way I learned to be, is The way I need to be. What would you have of me?
I cannot pretend the niceties Of an old-fashioned kind of girl, Nor am I so strong and brazen As the thoroughly modern woman. As in all things, I stand apart.
Not quite touching what others feel, Not quite daring to ask what others seem to already know, As I never know. And once again, I am left behind To make for myself A life I do not know In a world that is still more foreign than familiar What would you have me do?
I cannot move mountains, Nor do I possess the slightest inclination to try; I cannot redirect my fate, For it is that which I do not understand. I cannot influence the future of our planet, The extinction of all things, The birth of a new world.
And yet, all this you would have of me, Demand of me, Though it would not end with me. It extends to you as well, Though you subtly shift and dodge. Why should I stand alone in this? You have your reasons here.
I am waiting to see where you will take me Away from here, far from here… anywhere. And do you love? And yes, so very deeply do I love. Too deeply, for it hurts An ache in my heart as heavy as stone, For each day that I go without Each day I am alone.
A part of me lies frozen, so I weave my dreams, These dreams that give me freedom From my personal abyss The chasm of my life and its trappings The bonds of duty and responsibility, heavy as armor, Locks me in, locks others out, Who never see inside.
Wanting to shed this second skin, So free, to grasp at a chance of what might otherwise Not be.
What desperate words do I speak? Lost in loneliness and self-pity, Self-inflicted wounds, And more pathetic for that fact.
What wonders elude me still, Forced aside by the constraints of time or distance, Or my own uncertainty… or some other such excuse that I ply myself with; Words given weight, but which are truly Meaningless Against what matters most.
But I was once told that this is destiny, A trial of sincerity and endurance. So I wait for the chance With a patience I did not know I possess, For the moment when happiness will visit once again, And bestow a gift of permanence That I will clutch with recognition.
4. Accept that there is no one way to make it as a writer and that the definition of making it is fluid and tiered.
5. Accept that sometimes literary success is political and/or about who you know and that’s not likely to change. Yes, celebrities are going to keep publishing terrible books. Yes, Lisa Rinna’s Starlit is an actual thing. I read the book and… I’m scarred. But. You’re not getting better as a writer, worrying about the system.
5a. If you’re a woman, writer of color or queer writer, there are probably more barriers. Know that. Be relentless anyway. Strive for excellence. Learn how to kick the shit out of those barriers. Don’t assume every failure is about your identity because such is not the case.
6. Accept that sometimes cream actually does rise to the top and hard, consistent work will eventually get noticed, maybe not in the way you envisioned, but some way, some how.
7. Understand the actual odds and learn to love the slush pile. The slush pile is not your enemy. It’s actually one of your best friends.The truth is that a significant percentage of the slush pile, which I prefer to call the submission queue, is absolutely terrible because people are lazy and will submit any old thing. If you can write a good sentence you are already heads and shoulders above most of what is found in submission queues. You’re not competing against 10,000 submissions a year a magazine receives. You’re competing against more like 200. Those are still intimidating odds but they’re also far more reasonable.
8. Be nice. The community is small and everyone talks. Being nice does not mean eating shit. Being nice does not mean kissing ass. Being nice just means treating others the way you would prefer to be treated. If you’re comfortable being treated like an asshole, then by all means.
9. Know that more often than not, editors have your best interests at heart. Stand up for your writing but be open to editorial suggestions. A good editor is giving you feedback in service of your writing.
10. Ignore most of the atrocious writing advice that proliferates at such an alarming rate.
11. Stop listening to conspiracy theories about publishing.
12. Stop listing to doomsday predictions about publishing.
13. Don’t talk yourself out of the game by listening to conspiracy theories, doomsday predictions, and bad advice.
14. Make note of the distinction between writing and publishing. They are two very different things.
15. Know that you can get an agent through the mystically fearsome slushpile. It may be hard. It may take more time than you want but it can and does happen. I found my first agent through the slush pile. She’s great. My second agent found me because of essays I wrote. Sometimes people find agents at conferences, or through friends of a friend, or other such connections but you absolutely can go the old fashioned route.
15a. Do your research. Know what agents are interested in. Spell their names correctly. Have a book you give a damn about and make sure it shows. Know how to talk about your book.
15b. If you want to see a sample query letter, just ask a writer who successfully signed with an agent through the slush pile. They will probably share.
16. You do not need to live in New York to be a writer, though New York is great (dirty bathrooms aside) and it might be better if you live elsewhere and visit New York for a few days at at time.
17. Perspective is everything. Someone getting a book deal is not taking yours away. Success is not as finite as it seems—it’s a matter of luck, timing, and hard work. (Or sometimes, yes, who you know).
17a. You are neither as great or terrible a writer as you assume.
18. Know that sometimes you simply need to work harder and sometimes you’ve done the best you can do and there’s no shame in either.
19. Participate in the literary community in the ways you are comfortable participating. What matters is that you contribute. That could be subscribing to a magazine, attending a reading, volunteering at a literary magazine, and so on. (See #8)
20. Have an online presence or don’t. It’s shocking how much time writers spend stressing over this that could be spent writing. Yes, an online presence helps but only if you actually use it with some regularity. Plenty of writers don’t have a significant online presence and manage to still be writers. If you feel like having an online presence (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Tumblr, whatever), is a pain in the ass, it’s going to show and it’s not worth having.
21. If you’re going to have a website, don’t have an ugly website. There’s no excuse anymore. If you cannot afford a designer, no problem. Use a content management system like Wordpress or Tumblr and a nice template.
22. You will probably need a job unless you’re fine with financial stress. Yes you can have a job and be a writer. It happens all the time. I used to be fine with financial stress because I was young and my fantasies were exciting. I am not anymore because I am old and I love my apartment and health insurance and buying stupid shit. A job facilitates these things so keep it in mind. There are worse things than a job.
23. Learn to deal with rejection. You don’t have to like it. You can sulk and whine and cry. You can blog about it. Just know that publishing involves rejection far more than acceptance. It’s easier if you can process that early on.
23 a. Maybe don’t write editors who reject you to call them names. That doesn’t ever end well.
24. Have other hobbies. Don’t be one of those people who only writes and can only talk about writing. My hobbies are embarrassing but I do have them and am grateful to have them.
So, I recorded a short little thing earlier in HitRECord, but it’s not popping up on my dashboard there, so I’m guessing I just suck at it at the moment? I tried uploading it again, but this time, I saved the link to the record. I think that should work? Anyway, I’ve included it here if you want to read it under the cut.
I joined HitRECord. We’ll see how it goes. I imagine there will be some cross-posting of content I write here and there and…well, I suppose that’s the nature of today’s internet creativity; growth necessitates exposure, thus I cannot be so afraid to put my work out there, right?