Stationary is no Antibody, but Maybe it Helps?

This is definitely not a blog that will tell you how to get through COVID 19 with grace and ease. There are plenty of those and I don’t have anything original to add. I wish I did.

One thing I implemented in my household that has lasted more than a weekend is the revival of hankies. You know the cloth thing your grandpa always had in his pocket? I have a basket of hankies set out like Easter eggs and you can get a new one each day. Matt and I decided that “big blows” go in disposable tissue but occasional wipes can get the pocket hankie. That made it less weird.

You are judging me as totally gross right now but I am impervious because yesterday, for the first time, the new puppy pushed his way through the bathroom door to discover that I actually “do my business” in The House! No judgment you send will match the intensity of those chocolate eyes. I destroyed his innocence, forever!

This is less gross and more gross at the same time… When I do decide a blow is “Kleenex worthy,” I get a tissue but then I put it in my pocket and I later use it as toilet paper. Yeah, there is a risk of getting boogers on my butt hole, but this is an emergency, people! We MUST conserve!

You can judge me all you want but I grew up poor and if you threw a tissue away without having smeared boogers on each quadrant, my mother’s WRATH would have been upon you! Yes, she checked the trash. With her bare hands. Apparently, she was more concerned about waste than germs. It was a simpler time.

So… that was all an example of how I am making this up as I go along and DO NOT HAVE THIS! We are at week… what? 500? I don’t know. I work from home anyway so I was at a disadvantage at noticing the difference between leading a sad solitary life and living in a pandemic from the get-go. Time is like a cesspool of headlines and vague concerns, all blending together in a impressionist painting of HELL. I have kinda been feeling that since 2016. Y’all are just catching up with me.

ANYHOO!

This is the one thing I have been doing for the last six weeks or so that I think is actually helpful and I encourage you all to do the same. I have dug out my collection of stationary. You know, those packs of 12 thank you cards or blank note cards you bought when you only needed three, so they pile up endlessly in that drawer you hate to look in? I discovered a box of cards that (I shit you not) I bought in 1996. They are all portraits of Tibetan people and they are so beautiful that I never parted with a single one. Also, what occasion do those suit, really? Happy bat-mitzvah! Here is a photo of an ancient vegetarian! (Maybe that would be acceptable but it certainly wasn’t the perfect fit.)

Point being: I dug out those cards and whenever I feel a longing for connection, I sit down and – here is the important part – before I can over think it, I write to someone and I send it. Who doesn’t love a hand written card? Who isn’t craving connection right now?

I’ve sucked Ethan into it also. Each week he gets a vague assignment from his second grade teachers that says “write X many sentences about whatever you want.” I have converted that into “write to a grandparent using a card from my stash!” He has two bio parents and two step parents, so there are plenty of grandfolks to choose from! And God Almighty, do they need that right now!

I’m not trying to give myself any credit here; it is a simple thing. But if you are reading this, I implore you: make a list of people in your life that you could lift up with a card (or note on scratch paper! It doesn’t need to be a fancy card!), and make that happen this week/weekend. It’s small but it makes a difference.

PS If you are wondering who received the precious Tibetan portraits from the mid nineties, I’m sad to say that I haven’t sent any of those. Apparently, my inner hoarder wants to be buried with those. My inner hoarder is strong willed, so I better start saving up for a super sized casket.

Writer’s Envy

Note: this post contains affiliate links.

For most of my life, I used the words “envy” and “jealousy” interchangeably. Sometime in the last year, however, I learned that there is a distinct difference between the two emotions.

Envy is the feeling of inadequacy that one feels when faced with another person’s success or status that you wish you had.  Jealousy, on the other hand, is the inadequacy you feel when faced with the threat of losing something you already have (such as a partner or a position) to someone else.

In short, they are both crappy feelings that derive from a sense of insecurity. But they are not quite the same crappy feeling.

I learned yesterday that I friend of mine got her memoir published. I don’t mean that she got a book contract, mind you. I got an invitation to a reading and book signing event next week. So… that shit’s for real.

I want to be happy for her. On some level I think I am. She’s a wonderful person who has lived a hard life and has taken those breaks and bruises and courageously made them into art. I have loved what I have read of her manuscript in our workshops. It is funny and heartbreaking and written with stark beauty and raw power.

And yet… I am also a writer. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find I’m totally vulnerable to feeling this kind of covetous burning, but I’ve been feeling it. Envy. Ugly and viscous envy, stinking and as slow to push through as primordial pond sludge.

I’m in a lot of writing groups and I have, over the years, seen many people break through various layers of success. They land agents and book contracts. I even have another friend who is on book tour right now, as a matter of fact. I haven’t felt this way about them, though, and I’m trying to figure out why. My best guess is that those friends don’t write in my genre, so I never felt like I was competing with them in the first place.

A funny and heartbreaking memoir, on the other hand? That’s what I am going for. Maybe I feel like there are only so many of those that will get published (which is not untrue) and that gap just narrowed a bit for me.

The last time I felt this way was about four years ago, when someone I know had a play produced through a local theatre company. I knew him back in my twenties when we worked together at a large national chain bookstore. Based on that two-year experience, you should just assume that most of the people who work in bookstores are aspiring writers of one genre or another. Back then, this guy was a journalist and I was a playwright. That said, imagine my surprise when, fifteen years later, I saw in the paper that he had written a comedic play about disgruntled intellectuals working at a large bookstore during the Christmas season, which was totally a play I was totally going to get around to writing one of these decades!

It hit me like a punch, but I swallowed my pride and went to see it. (After all, didn’t Liz Gilbert warn us all about what happens when you don’t act on inspiration?) About half way through the play , there was a bit where the brainy booksellers are having a deep conversation in the break room and you hear a girl ask for back-up at the “cash/wrap.” As in, cash register and wrapping area at the front of the store. They ignore her and keep talking. The third time we hear her voice, she says, “Cashiers to the cash/wrap, for the love of God, cashiers to the cash/wrap.”

That was me! I totally did that! And it was perfect, because it made all the cranky holiday shoppers in that long-ass-line laugh, which is exactly what the moment called for. And then, once they got up to my cash register, they were so nice to me because they saw how hard I tried to get them out the door as quickly as possible.

I did get in a little trouble with my manager. I didn’t get “written up” or whatever. But he did give me one of those eye-brow defined expressions and a stern voice that said, “Not funny, Rachel,” the next time he walked by. But it was. It was really funny. In fact, it was funny enough to make it into a comedy written fifteen years later, and I don’t mind saying, it got a good laugh from the live audience.

I got home from the performance and I sent the playwright a message through Facebook, ostensibly to congratulate him on his accomplishment, but mostly to take credit for the line I contributed.

He wrote back an hour or so later to say thanks but that he didn’t remember me doing that. He kindly added that of course that didn’t mean it didn’t happen, and it was such a long time ago, and maybe it just lodged itself in his subconscious the way things do.

Which is, I am certain, the truth. It was not, however, what I wanted to hear. Then I switched over to his personal page to do some Facebook stalking while I was at it, because why not? I was already obsessing. Might as well do it properly.

I knew he was married to an adorable wife with an adorable toddler and had another little one on the way. The discovery I made that night was he had just surprised his little nuclear family with the world’s cutest puppy as an early Christmas gift, and the photos of his toddler and the puppy were beating me over the head like a yule log, which was quickly getting covered in blood and hair.

To add a little context, at the time my relationship status was in limbo. I was with a man who moved in with me and then had to go back to South Carolina to work things out with a property he had there, “for a little while.” That was the previous March. I held out through the summer without any clarification, and then the summer turned to fall, and the temperature steadily dropped. Suddenly, it was the holidays I was forced to accept that I had been abandoned. I wanted to break up with him and get back on the dating market, but my 1,500 square foot house was chockablock full of his shit. Not only that, he left two cars in my driveway. I tried to think of a story that would make sense to some dude that I brought back to my place to explain my excessive love of automobiles, but I hadn’t come up with a good one yet. And I needed to get laid.

In addition (and needless to say) I didn’t have a new play or a baby or a puppy or any such bundle of joy to keep my mind occupied that Christmas. I had a mortgage and abandonment issues. Also, I had the new revelation that even when I do manage to do something truly funny, I’m so forgettable that people assume that they, themselves, must have been the one to come up with it.

Oh, envy. You are so gross and mean. The worst part of that envious feeling, that ugly swamp hag trying to pull herself out of the bog feeling, is the fact that the person I was losing to wasn’t even aware that I thought I was competing with him! He was too busy reading his play reviews in the newspaper, most likely by the fireplace in a wing-backed chair with an ottoman and matching plaid robe and slippers, with the stockings hung on the mantle and robust puppy snores rumbling at his feet, like a goddamned Norman Rockwell illustration from 19 fucking 26.

Or maybe he did suspect. God, that’s actually worse. Writer’s envy is common. He must have been tuned in to it. What if there was an edge in my message that he picked up on? I wonder if my friend with the upcoming signing suspects me or any of her other writing friends of covetousness? That would make me sad.

It is a rainy afternoon and as I write this I am sitting on my couch ruminating on envy and the way it seems to come up in different situations, and I’m strangely remembering something long lost in memory.

Many years ago (though after the bookstore years), my ex-husband and I bought a house. I remember the first time my parents came to see it, I was excited to show my mother the kitchen because it had this beautiful view of the Wasatch Mountains. It also had a convection oven and a marble island and loads of counter-space, but I wasn’t thinking about those things. Not until Mom walked in, took it in, then had to walk back out to another room to hide the tears in her eyes.

My parents have lived in a Victorian house from the 1850s my entire life. My dad worked as an architect and was always “going to get around to fixing it up,” but somehow that never happened. My mom, therefore, has spent the last fifty years in a house without a functional oven, range, or dishwasher. The plumbing barely works for Chrissakes. The thing that makes me really sad, something I learned just a few years ago, was that she was still working in Oregon back in the 70s when my dad came out to Utah to look for a job and he bought the house without consulting her. By the time she saw it, they owned it. I think she hoped it would be temporary, but they still live there as I write this in late 2019.

I’m sure on some level my mother was happy for me when we moved into that beautiful house. But we can’t control the emotions that come up in those situations, any more than I can help feeling the way I do about my friend’s book. I don’t like it, though. Which is why I’m writing this: to work through the silliness of it and maybe to confess my sins. Regardless, I know I’m in the wrong. And for the record I plan to be over it soon so that I can be earnest in my elation for my friend at her reading. It is really important to me to go and help her celebrate this amazing accomplishment.

Unless she also gets a puppy. If that happens, that bitch is dead to me.

Bad Trip

Not that long ago, I often traveled for work. This was when I was single and lived alone. Traveling for work became routine after a while. I would even say I got to the point where I enjoyed traveling solo. I remember one conference in particular. It was in San Diego and I didn’t know anyone at the conference or in the city, but I explored and found fun things to do. I even blew off the “networking” session of the conference because I saw a sandwich board advertising, “One Night Only: John Cleese Live!” It was a great choice; he was hilarious! I just wish I would have bought one of the t-shirts that read, “I saw John Cleese perform RIGHT before he DIED!” (This was in 2008, by the way. He is still alive.)

This was also the trip where I accidentally ordered veal because I thought “scallopini” meant “little scallops.” I felt terrible once I realized what I had done, but it wasn’t like I could give the little guy CPR once it was on the plate. So I ate it. (And goddamn it was delicious.) Then there was the supposedly haunted restaurant in Old Town with the margaritas the size of bird baths. Well, the first one is a bird bath. The second one threatens to become a facial. But I wasn’t driving, and I was without a companion to judge me, so I enjoyed both, completely.

As I said, this was 2008, over ten years ago. Many things have changed. I’m in a relationship. I have a stepson.  I had Wensley in 2008, but now he is an older dog with some health issues. (He will be fourteen years old this month.) That’s a lot of comfort and responsibility to leave behind, especially when I haven’t traveled on my own in years. It didn’t actually occur to me that I hadn’t exercised those muscles and therefore had lost all the tone until I went to Austin by myself last weekend.

I made a New Year’s goal to do more with my blog and I searched for learning opportunities. I found an online community of blogging women with a conference coming up in Texas and I bought tickets and booked a flight. I was anxious about the trip, but I have acute anxiety. I am anxious about everything.

The morning of the flight, Ethan (who is six) told me he was worried that I might get lonely on my trip and asked if I would like to take one of his soft friends (his word for stuffed animals) with me. It was such a sweet gesture and it touched me. I even took out an extra top to make space for the soft friend he selected, which was a black bear featuring a radio collar because it was purchased at a national park where bears are tagged and studied.

As soon as I buckled in for the flight, my anxiety went to work. “Why are you doing this?” It asked. “Can you even afford it? What if something happens to your extremely old dog while you are gone and you aren’t there to comfort him?” Tears welled up behind my eyes. I fought them back, but they pretty much stayed right there for the rest of the weekend.

I want to be completely clear: the conference was great and the ladies I met were lovely. I might even go again next year. That said, it was a hard experience for me. From the moment I entered the first event (a cocktail party on Friday evening), women were reaching out to me to help me feel welcome. Obviously they picked up my introvert vibe and reacted by inviting me into their conversations, metaphorically putting an arm around my shoulders and saying, “You’re good; We got you!” But I was not prepared for what a room full of female Texas bloggers (who refer to themselves as “influencers” and “momtrepreneurs” would be like.

These women are poised and glamourous. They are fit and fashionable, and they wear lipstick and high heels on Saturdays. Where I come from, Saturdays are for skiing, or biking, or hiking (depending on the weather). There are definitely no high heels. There may be tinted chapstick, but it has to be SPF 15 or higher.

They sell their makeup and outfits and home décor ideas on their feeds and they make serious money doing it. They have class and style and they will help you have it, too. All you have to do is click and add to cart. And that is exactly what thousands of people on Instagram do, every day. You have to see the photos of their picture perfect lives to understand it. I felt like a fraud sitting with them and taking notes on what makes the perfect Pinterest board.

I know what you are thinking. “Oh, Rachel, we all feel that way! I’m sure half of them thought you were the one that had it together! It’s just a bad case of imposter syndrome, that’s all!” No. Wrong. I can prove it. Here is a photo I found on the photographer’s site (@mandiroachphotography) in a collection of pics from the event.

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In case I have to explain, I’m the one in the center dealing with, I don’t know, an entire chicken wing or similar stuck in my back teeth. If you could zoom out you would see one hundred more women just like the ones surrounding me here. Lovely, lovely, stinkin’ lovely. Not one giving themselves dental work.

Feeling out of place just made me feel even more homesick. And then, the last day of the conference, I made the mistake of checking my email and discovering that the coverage I had set up for my day off to go to the conference hadn’t been adequate. I realized that I was in some trouble with my boss and that sent me into minor crisis mode. I felt like the whole trip had been a mistake. This was just before the smaller focus group session where we discussed questions and takeaways. I had been conspicuously quiet, so the group leader asked me to share my thoughts.

“I’m totally overwhelmed,” I blubbered, the tears that I had been holding back breaking forth in a torrent and hitting the floor. “I don’t even know what an ‘instagram story’ is!”

Again, the lovely ladies enveloped me and told me I was okay. They reminded me I just needed to get one actionable thing out of the conference and hold on to that. And someone else told me something that did stick with me. It isn’t about followers, it is about authenticity. What is your “why?” That is, why do you blog? What are you bringing to this space?

So I went to the loo and washed my face. Then I went back to the table and sat down with my notebook to draft a mission statement. I didn’t figure out exactly what it was, but I realized that I do have a “why” (aside from needing a place to write and hoping someone who likes my sense of humor will read it). I want to live an examined life. Writing helps me do that examining. My hope is that sharing what I unearth will help others, too.

Whew! I got my one thing, just before the conference ended! But then it was over, and all the ladies headed off for home. I, however, headed back to my hotel. I wasn’t able to find a non-red-eye flight, and my red-eye days are behind me.

Or so I said when I bought my tickets. My hotel had a spa and a gym, surely I would be able to find something to do that last evening before catching a reasonable morning flight, right? But then I was in the hotel with sixteen hours to kill, completely stressed out about work and needing a cuddle from each of my boys, human and canine alike. As good as it would have been for me, I wasn’t going to go to the gym.

I went down to the hotel bar and started texting a friend to ask her how she got 10k Instagram followers, but we ended up talking about the conference instead. The tears came back and I couldn’t make them stop, not even when my amazing mac and cheese with brisket tips arrived. My poor waitress probably thought my best friend died. I snapped a tearful selfie and sent it to my friend, but I’m sharing it here also in the spirit of authenticity.

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And the mac and cheese… (that’s cornbread and bacon butter in the background)

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Throughout the trip, I kept an eye out for good spots to pose Black Bear so that I could send photos home to Ethan. I looked through them back in my hotel room and realized that, based on the photos, the bear was on the trip that I hoped to have. It seemed significant and apropos of the conference and the idea of sharing an authentic experience, versus and idea of perfection. I can’t do what those other ladies do. I am not here to tell you how to have the perfect vacation because I don’t know how to do that. I’m here to tell stories about why I spent last Sunday ugly crying in public places. I’m here to talk about how living with acute anxiety is hard. I have learned that it is possible to live a full life with anxiety, but you have to work at it. It won’t always go according to plan, and sometimes you have to force yourself to get out and do it. Luckily, there are also stuffed bears to cuddle while waiting for planes, and there is love and kindness waiting to reassure us on both ends of the trip.

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Rhyme Scheming

I like to think of myself as a reader.  Not so much that I’m “well read.”  I’ve read some classics and a lot of nonfiction in the last few years.  I have also read some highly entertaining novels that few would list as “literature.”  I’m rambling… My point is that I like to think of myself as someone who reads a lot of different genres and forms.  But I have a dirty little secret.  I hate poetry.

Maybe you are thinking that isn’t so uncommon.  A lot of people dislike poetry.  I, however, have discovered I have a completely irrational hatred of poetry that I do not completely understand.  I know it is judgey but nearly all poets make me roll my eyes.  I think as a writer I feel like poets should make the time and effort to write a story that might relate to someone besides themselves.  I suppose a poet’s response might be that I’m too inefficient to express myself in a poem; I need an multi-page composition.  And I would defend myself.  With a classically structured persuasive essay.

A few years ago I was talked into going to a poetry reading at the King’s English Bookstore here in Salt Lake City.  I went with a friend and once we arrived I saw that they had an open box of wine, which is my favorite flavor.  Open, that is.

I thought, “Okay… I can do this.  It is poetry, but it isn’t bourgie poetry.  It’s box wine poetry.”

I was fine (bored, but fine) until the second poet got up to read from his recently published collection. You are already picturing him, probably. He was wearing a sports jacket, jeans, and a stringy pony tail.  In the third or fourth poem he recited the line, “The spider scuttled out from beneath the ice cube…” and I had to bite my hand to keep from yelling, “No it didn’t and fuck you for saying that it did!!!”

Where the hell did that come from?’ I asked myself, taking a sniff of my boxed chardonnay to search for clues.  What about this poor cliché of a man had invited the full furnace of my rage, without any discernible prelude?

I elbowed my friend and we slipped out the side door and went to dinner at the Lebanese restaurant next door.  ‘Maybe I was hurt very badly in a past life by a mediocre poet,’ I hypothesized as we crunched through the snow between the two sidewalks.  ‘Or maybe I was a spider who was unsuspectingly crushed by ice.’

We will never know.

Transitions

My writing group was discussing a piece submitted by our youngest member, a very bright and passionate millennial girl. Young woman? It was mostly great but I told her that I was having a hard time keeping her characters straight and maybe she could give them names?

“There’s just the one guy,” she said.

“Really? Oh I thought there were two. You are talking to your ex in the first scene but then a few pages later you wake up next to this guy and there’s no transition…”

“Yeah it’s the same guy. It’s just one guy.”

“Okay, well I was confused. Maybe I’m the only one…” I looked at the other writing group members for help.

She laughed. “You Gen-Xers. You don’t get us at all. When I say that we broke up I don’t mean we are over. I still need to get off. I still need a roommate. You guys are so easily shocked.”

She was right – I didn’t get it. But it wasn’t in a prudish “do you mean that you did the DEED with a BOY you aren’t IN LOVE WITH?” way.  I don’t care. It’s a clarity problem. Not a generational problem. Also, for the record, I spent most of the last ten years focussed on either dating or writing.  Good relationships are hard.  Good transitions are harder.

Still, it reminded me of the time I was at that dance club in Greece (I never go to dance clubs but we were in the Greek Islands) and I was wearing white pants (I never wear but we were in the Green Islands) and I got my period of fucking course. And I asked a group of Australian college aged tourists if one of the had a tampon and they looked at me like I was a particularly nasty leper asking for a band-aid and said, “Uh – no!? We haven’t had a period in years!”

Once I got over how an accent could be super cute and way judgey at the same time, my mind exploded. “What do they know that I don’t know?”

When I got back to the States I asked all my friends, “We are all still having our periods, right? Because apparently Australians have evolved and don’t do that anymore.”

So, apparently Aussie girls had that figured out back in the aughts and now millennial girls have evolved beyond broken hearts and paying full rent. Good for them. Less Tampax and Kleenex in the landfills.

With a Little Help From My Friends

I used to get discouraged when I would take a writing class or attend a conference and be forced to acknowledge that the world is full of talented writers who are as more driven than I am to create and tell stories.  It made my dreams feel ordinary and facing the competition was depressing.

Then, five years ago, I joined a writing group formed in one of those classes. I never felt that way again. I became invested in these people and the stories that they tell. I want them to achieve their writing and life goals and I believe that they will. I’ll be there with reasonably priced champagne when they do.

Yesterday, I got an email from a friend who is a former member of my writing group.  I mentioned that I had submitted a writing sample to another agent and that I was prepared for the statistical probable rejection that I will receive.  He replied with this message:

Final 2015 stats from an agency in Denver: 29k submissions. 130 requests for full manuscripts. 3 new authors signed.

You don’t get to be one of the final three without first being one of the 29k.

Writers are not your competition.  They are your fellow dreamers.  We all have stories to tell.

Sit down and email one of them right now.  I guarantee they will appreciate the encouragement.

Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon

In my last post I bragged about having overcome the sting of rejection. I all but claimed the I was the Dread Pirate Roberts, and rejection was my iocane powder. 

Remember that story I spit shined and sent back into the world to take some cuts? Yeah, it took some cuts. Immediate and merciless cuts. 

When you submit a story and it takes a few months to get rejected, you get this idea that maybe you made it through a few rounds before it was tossed out of consideration. But when you get rejected with 72 hours there are no such happy delusions. They had zero interest. They would have thrown it over a shoulder if they weren’t reading it on an iPad. They may have rolled their eyes at my pitiful writing and probably didn’t get past the first page. But I definitely have no talent and should stop bothering these poor people by pretending otherwise. 

Most of the time writing is my passion and I know I will always write, regardless of whether I have any success with publishing, because I must. It is and has always been the way I make sense of the world. 

But sometimes writing is a second job that I took on which pays only in disappointment. And sometimes I feel well paid.

Reject

Lately my friend Gina and I have been talking about trying rejection therapy. It’s this game that I heard about on NPR. The idea is that you intentionally put yourself in situations where you know you will be rejected (like walking up to a stranger and asking for a ride to another city). Eventually you get rejected so many times that it stops feeling destructive.  

It seems like a good idea to me. Managing rejection is an important life skill. If you never experience it in your career or love life, well good for you. You are a Kardashian. The rest of us gotta deal. 

Then the other night I got an email that reminded me that I am already doing rejection therapy: I’m a writer. 

It wasn’t a suprise. It is story I’m proud of but the magazine was a reach for me. I’ll submit to them again in the future. They will get quite practiced at rejecting me, if I have anything to say about it. 

Here’s the funny thing that I noticed: this was the first time that the rejection didn’t illicit a pain response. When I first started sending stories to editors and began collecting rejections, it registered as a physical ache in my chest. Like the wound to my pride was so intense it rattled my rib cage and bruised my heart. The first two or three emails reduced me to tears and it took days to recover. 

Lately, however, when I’ve been mingling at conferences or workshops, I’ve been hearing how many rejections the other writers have received and I’ve started feeling like a poser. Or, at the very least, a lightweight. They have serious battle scars and stories from the trenches that make my experience feel like – not a war – but a paper route in a middle class neighborhood. 

“I fell off my bike and everything! And there was this grumpy guy who never paid on time. Also, he had a really nasty Pomeranian…”

I came home from the last one thinking “I have GOT to get some more rejections! I NEED these people to take me seriously!!!”

Notice, the thought wasn’t “I need to get more publications,” which should be the goal. It was “I gotta go get roughed up out there so I can say I paid my dues!”

I’m not sure that speaks well of me. But I can say that the morning after I got this recent rejection I gave my story a little spit shine, found another magazine that seemed like a plausible fit, pounded out a cover letter and sent that kiddo back out into the field to take some more abuse. And that seems like a good thing. 

So, thanks Rejection Therapy! I appreciate what you have done for me! And for the record: you can’t have a ride either. 

Halfway Down the Stairs: Tenth Anniversary Edition

Great news! I had a story published! It can be found here!

That is all.

Some Thoughts From the Conference 

I had such a great time at the writing conference in Ohio. I took a lot of notes and had a wonderful consultation on a writing sample I sent in. I won’t go into much detail here except to say that it was inspiring to spend a few days with a group of people who share this passion of mine. 

To summarize the biggest takeaways (none of them are profound or even new information, but helpful to me all the same):

  1. Everyone feels like an imposter. 
  2. Everyone gets rejected. 
  3. Writing is work. Next time I find myself brooding over how difficult it is to get traction in the marketplace and then slipping into a panic about whether or not I have something original to say and/or the talent to say it, I should stop, shut up, and get back to work. 

Cheryl Strayed gave a wonderful reading at the conference. I was lucky enough to get a minute to talk to her and get a book signed. (Swoon!)

A few days later I saw this post on her Facebook page (no I am not stalking her, why would you ask me that?). I thought “I can toss out my notes from the conference and just memorize this!”  

Or maybe I’ll just print it and put it on my bathroom mirror. I’m thinking it’s a little too long to be a tattoo, but I haven’t ruled it out yet.