Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting work rejected, again: it's okay

I have written two short story collections, maybe three,  given the new work that surprised me in 2010 and old work I found. 

The new work is six stories I wrote. I thought I was done with fiction, but I wasn't. The old work is stories my mom had held onto, pre-1989.  I'd thought they were lost long ago, then looked more closely at the contents of one box a month or so ago. Talk about voila!

Okay, so let's say I have three short story collections waiting to be published. When will it happen?  What does it mean that they are not published? My stories aren't sparky happy fun fun fun fun. I wish they were.

When I started writing I was convinced I had to produce art--"art." I hadn't yet read Flaubert's travel journals or Madame Bovary but the idea of creating the work so carefully each sentence is a craftily laid tile of a mosaic was in the ballpark of what I thought I should do. 

I'm not saying I was pretentious. I was ambitious; also working out my style. Making my way without workshops and classes. I really struggled with the burden of classicism, of thinking I should write about Oedipus and Jocasta, not a twenty-something in a Hollywood laundromat.

The laundromat won.  Each time I write I write as best as I can.  And still my short story collections are rejected by the few competitions I enter (NO-FEE competitions). I'm not really complaining, just wondering when, if ever, I will figure it out.

What do I think I'll figure out?  That I should give up? 

These meditations are brought to you by the University of Pittsburgh Press' Dru Heinz competition. The press announced this year's winner on Friday. It wasn't me.  I hadn't expected that it would be me, but of course I hoped it might.

It's hard. It's hard for everyone. Who knows anything. Every so often someone will contact me about one of my stories or poems to thank me. That has to be enough.

To tell you the truth, it is.

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