Last year, I joined a number of Facebook groups starring real, publishing writers. Many were focused on commercial publications than literary, especially high-level publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
I queried a few placed. Crickets. I elected to finish out 2018 per my goals – literary publications – and to start factoring in the commercial media in 2019.
First step: identify dream publications. Step Two: approach.
The New York Times: queried 3/17 with travel article culled from my recent Asia trip.
The Washington Post: Queried the Parenting section on 3/17 with a short humor essay regarding my less-than-nurturing behavior during the death of my daughter’s Guinea pigs (scuttling, gnawing creatures). Was rejected 3/19.
Huffington Post: Submitted the Guinea pig tale: “A Good Mama and a Decent Human Being.”
The Cut: A section in New York Magazine (NOT The New Yorker), very “hip.” Formerly interested only in essays, they announced on 3/18 that they now take fiction. On 3/18, sent flash fiction featuring sharks, rats, bad stew, and nunchucks. Only from my wickedly feminist imagination could this story spring.
Catapult: features long-form memoir (maybe 5,000 words). I have nothing for them, right now.
Longreads: ditto for their requirements, and ditto for my stock.
LitHub: Strikes a nice balance between literary and commercial. Submitted an essay, “Mouthy Ugly Genius.”
What, with me being in Asia and the 20-something submissions still circulating from 2018, this years’ submissions are off to a bit of a molasses-pour of a start. The good news, however, is that my submissions-to-acceptances-to-publications rate is dead even: 1:1:1.
Almost as good is my Good Rejection-to-Rejection (Dear Writer: NO) rate: 1:3.
Wouldn’t it be swell if the averages held steady. A-hahahahahahaha.
On Friday, I will submit my first pitch of three for travel articles that came out of my recent Asia trip. To The New York Times’ Travel section. Petrified. I know that the worse that can happen is that they can say, “No.” I probably won’t even be crushed because I am already crushing myself merely thinking about submitting. And I know that there are many other outlets for these exciting pieces. Still … nerves like I haven’t had in years.
In other news: this week, I sent out my first query for As Far As You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back. Now there is THAT whole ferris wheel to think about. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. I’m going to go watch Colbert.
Think Paul Giamatti playing an earnest Quebequoi with the sense of an absent-minded-professor about him and a wide-open laugh. The person played by Paul Giamatti is my Kung Fu twin in that we started and will end our time here at Nam Yang on identical days. My Kung Fu twin’s most endearing quality relates to his shoes. We are forever taking our shoes on and off. Don’t wear them in your room. Put them on to schlep down to the practice area or over to the new practice area or up to the dining area. Paul Giamatti will leave his shoes at one practice area–because, really, it is just a hop from, say, the practice to the tea area. Why, the shoes? Yet when it is time for breakfast and his shoes are down at the far practice area, well; we have a bit of a problem on our han… feet.
This next person is played by Grace Jones with a shaved head and no make-up (but keep the wraps). She had no interest in Kung Fu. She came to Nam Yang for chi gong, but realized that she needed the yang side provided by the kung fu–the fire, the external strength–and well as the yin–the softer, meditative power which chi gong develops.
Along these lines, I am finding the strength-training kind of exciting. Even though I hate it. Mostly because I’m terrified I’ll hurt myself. But I’m not hurting myself. After my first training session led by Master Ian–we do indeed call him Master–he gave me a thumbs’ up! And, as previously noted (perhaps in a tweet), I did the splits for the first time in 10 years.
This final person reminds me of the nice characters played by Kevin Spacey–before Kevin Spacey blew it, Me, Too-wise, and then said what he said about that, and everyone was like, “Oh, don’t say that.”
Imagine the young Spacey over there with no hair (The real person shaves his head, too). Then imagine it is the crack of dawn. At the previous crack of dawn, you finished learning a chi gong form, and at today’s crack of dawn, you are supposed to put it into action. All by yourself. Shaved Kevin Spacey is the teacher that comes up to you and says, “I’m about to start the chi gong. Do you want to follow along?”
First departure from our group on my watch: the 20-young Dutch fellow who started his first-ever Asia travel in Sri Lanka with a seven-day, silent Vipassana meditation retreat, followed by two weeks of surfing, followed by one more week of silent Vipassana meditation. He’d never meditated before; he’d never traveled before. With two stints of seven days under his frayed belt, he had no problem sitting for the hour-long session that I was sure was going to kill me yesterday.
(Comic hyperbole aside, I did ok for a 1/2-hour, rather sucky for 15 minutes, and for the last 15, it was like, “When’s dinner?”)
Today, the young man took off on a motorbike to take roads north to Mae Hong Song before roads south to Chang Mai. I said, “Wouldn’t it be faster to go straight to Chiang Mai?”
He said, “I like driving.” In the movie, he would be played by a young Brad Pitt.
I was going to post this YTD yesterday. I am glad that I decided to let the draft sit for its customary 24-hour bake period BECAUSE I received a shockingly good rejection from World Literature Today:
Thanks for sending us “Goddess of Mercy.” Though we did not select this piece for publication, we really do appreciate your interest in publishing in our pages. I found your writing vivid and engaging and would welcome another submission, particularly something shorter.
Between their reputation for intellectualism and their flat-out luminosity, I came close to not even submitting to World Literature Today. I said the following aloud as I pressed Send: it’s my job to send the stuff. Let the editors make their decisions.
Finally: since sending out my three new pieces, I received two rejections of the short story The Great Ultimate. The remaining are still under consideration — including the magazine I have my hear set on for Hong Kong, My Twenties.
There is a nice story—not true—that holds when Hitler decreed all Sweden’s Jews wear yellow stars, their King replied, “If our Jews wear yellow stars, we all wear yellow stars.” Again, nice story; not true.
What would be different if all of Europe had worn yellow? Nothing but yellow.
This is a photo from one rally protesting the visit by Trump this morning to Pittsburg.