Friday, November 30, 2007

Skin like a Rhinoceros

I had a run of good luck broken today. For several Fridays in a row, I'd received acceptance letters from several fine journals. Today, upon arriving home, three SASEs awaited me, along with their three rejection letters, all nicely phrased and with several encouraging notes.

Over the years, I've developed my own elaborate system for handling these things, and I've been thinking about how my rituals help keep my ego's skin so thick. First, I leave the SASE until the end of the mail opening process. It lingers there on the desk, a flickering possibility. When my eyes happen to graze the postmarked stamp (always something more fun and interesting than a flag or a bell), I repeat to myself "It's a rejection. It's a rejection." This softens the blow when, as in most cases, it actually is a rejection, and it makes me doubly delighted when the opposite is true.

Once the results have sunk in, I go to my files and my spreadsheets and record the transaction. That's what it is, after all, a transaction. I've offered up something I believe others might value. Just because one particular editor says "no thanks," doesn't mean there isn't a home to be found for the poem elsewhere. By the time I get done filling in the cells on the spreadsheet, I'm able to take a step back and remind myself that it's nothing personal.

Tomorrow being Saturday, the mail will run, and like playing the lottery, there's always a chance for more good news.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thank You

A big thank you to Sean Chapman for being my blog guru and answering endless questions!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A year an a half ago, my life changed on two fronts at almost the same moment. In June 2006 I married a man I had begun to believe didn't exist, a man who could love me with all my strengths and my flaws, a man who understood my need for "a room of my own" in order to pursue my work and humbly gave up the only spare room in the house to me. In the same month, Anhinga Press launched my first book, Blood Almanac. I have to admit that opening that box of author's copies was much more exciting than opening the wedding gifts we'd received -- mostly because I'd already sent the thank you's to Reginald Shepherd, who judged the contest, and Rick Campbell and Lynne Knight of Anhinga Press. I'm not sure we ever finished writing all the wedding thank you's. (If you're one of those we forgot, we hope you know us well enough to forgive us!) In the year an a half since the book came out, I've toyed with the idea of establishing a web presence. I've hesitated because the marketing side of publishing has never been my strong suit and because during the hubbub of ramping up for the book and the wedding there wasn't time, and then during the traveling and PR phase of having the book newly published there wasn't time, and then I spent most of 2007 recovering from 2006. However, in the past two years of going to AWP and also traveling for the book, I've met so many fantastic people that I've begun to feel a calling to connect myself to others who share the crazy need to attempt to put the unsayable into words. I launch this blog with many of the same emotions with which I launched both my marriage and the book--eagerness blurred with anxiety, hopefulness mixed with nervousness, and confidence made humble by doubts. So far, both the marriage and the book are thriving, which may bode well for this blog. I hope to write each week about what I'm reading, how the writing goes, and to brag a bit about the envelopes and emails fat with acceptance letters (for myself and friends). The title of the blog comes from Emily Dickinson's letter to T.W. Higginson, July 1862. It comforts me.