So a year or so ago my friend Leslie told me to start submitting writing to literary journals and the like. There must be dozens of them she said. So I looked into it. There are hundreds. So sometime early in 2014 I spent a few days online submitting various stories and essays to a few dozen of them. I think around 50. It’s easy to do online once you get into the swing of it. I’d actually forgotten all that for ages, then today I got a rejection letter. Some journal from some college somewhere. Some arty name. It was a very nice rejection letter. Very polite and apologetic. Apparently writers are these sensitive little fucks, fragile as butterfly wings, always on the verge of disintegration and heartbreak. Yeah, right. I think those are poets. Anyway, this makes, I think, fifty rejection letters. I’m on a roll. There must be another couple hundred of these journals left. I could have two hundred and fifty rejection letters, all very nice, from every literary journal in the land. These literary journals all tend to look alike, though. A lot of stories about relationships. Apparently relationships are very popular in university creative writing courses. It makes for dull stories, lifeless even, but often very well written. Well written nothings, very academic. And I can’t seem to get myself to write like that. I mean that ain’t reality. It’s just abstractions, equations written out in words instead of numbers. Somehow the real world, the thing around us we touch and feel and smell and taste and hear, that all gets left out. But that’s what they seem to teach in college writing classes anymore. Words for the sake of being words. College seems to fuck up everything creative it touches. Sucks the life right out of it. Sanitizes it for rich people. They run everything, you know, the rich people. They dominate the arts like they dominate banking. But I dunno, fuck rich people, the hell with ’em. And fuck college too. Fuck the arts. Fuck everything. And there it is, that incredible rush you get telling the world to go fuck itself. It’s like breathing pure oxygen. You won’t make any money that way, but you’re alive, and that’s more than most people can say.
Nicely put. I have managed to avoid most of life myself, so the trivial bits of so-called creativity I have attempted have been pretty much lifeless. So it goes.
I don’t believe for a second that you’ve missed most of life, nor that your prose is lifeless.
Well, thanks for the kind words, but I don’t think it can be denied that I have lived a very middle-class (tending to upper middle class, given the pretty lucrative job into which I stumbled by sheer accident) sheltered life, by choice. Never been drunk, never been involved in any dangerous situation, got married before I had ever been on a date. I am still astonishingly naive about, well, darn near everything you can think of. (Trivial example: I have still never owned a cellular phone, let alone any of those gizmos everybody else uses all the time.) So, well I am able to admire those of you who have the courage to engage life fully, that’s just not me. I’m OK with that, just an observation.
Ha! For some reason, can’t resist a blog post full of F bombs. Learned not to put that word into blog comments though because sometimes the whole comment gets dumped into the spam file.
Academic romance? You mean the act which can lead to reproduction, is too base for college literary journals and so must be disguised with higher purpose? Thank you. Something to remind myself the next time a rejection letter lands in my inbox. Honestly, as much as my brain knows you are correct, my ego, that inflated balloon, requires acceptance letters to maintain its helium high.
Can’t wait to see how many F bombs appear here when a journal sends you a yes and a $50 check. Looking forward to that piece, too, since there will be a lot of touching, smelling, tasting and hearing. Cheers —
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I dashed this off to myself while shivering through a fever and never meant it to be public. I have lots of those. Alas, this one slipped through and I didn’t realize it for days. I also managed to malign every writer in America who isn’t me just because so many of them are better than me. I remember years ago I used to hustle poems to enter contests. I was broke, I needed the money. One time I got a hundred dollar check and some tacky certificate that I’d won second prize. The first prize was a thousand dollars. The collection–it came with the check–was appalling, the third prize and runner ups were pure dreck. I remember wondering who the bum was that got my thousand dollars, so I read his poem. It was easily ten times as good as mine. There were two hundred bad poets in the book, then me and one guy way better than me. I hated that guy. If not for him that thousand dollars would have been mine. The book and certificate went into the trash can, though I cashed the check.
Fortunately there was no internet back then, and no blogs, and my F-bombs were in longhand on a pad of paper now tucked deep in my closet somewhere.
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The preview and publish buttons are way too close together.
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And pardon me if I cop my own comment for a blog post….