The past six months have been a whirlwind of writing and submitting, and rejections and acceptances. To give some context to just how much of a tailspin I feel in: in the eight years between two thousand and two thousand and eight I placed two short stories with online magazines. In the past six months I’ve placed pieces of fiction--be they poems, prose poems, flashes, or short stories--in forty-eight different literary journals, and tens more are subbed and awaiting responses. Hence, it’s that big Five-0.
Needless to say I’ve received five times more rejections than I have acceptances. If not more! My “successes” have been fueled by the drive, perseverance, and downright obsession that I think all writers and artists can relate to, but my writing/submission cycle is veering toward addiction and that’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to take a step back from it all for a time.
The other reason for my "hiatus" is a much more sobering affair: I am a sexual and physical abuse survivor. Given my recent, and perhaps too much too soon, widespread publication of some deeply personal works in several online journals, I’m feeling the need to step back from everything for a time and reassess who I am as a person and writer, and to explore the direction I want to pursue. I do not want to rewound or misrepresent myself. However, I do want to continue to take risks in my work and life, otherwise what’s the point? Where’s the growth, the energy? But I want to take risks that feel more calculated, and that I can fully stand behind.
In particular, I’m concerned that some of my recent publications, taken outside of the context of healing, female sexuality, and female literature, might be misinterpreted as merely provocative or erotica. I’m working hard to be authentic in my life and work, and I’m just not “erotica” or raw for the sake of "edgy" or sensationalism. I’d like to think that I’m earnest and honest and that just like everyone else I'm working through my "stuff" and finding my way. I do feel the need in my work to visit issues of abuse, recovery, and the darker sides of human nature, and I’m struggling with how to best do that in a way that does not in turn injure me or alienate my readers.
Frankly, I feel so much in a panic around the work that I’ve recently published or that is forthcoming that I’ve seriously considered pulling everything and taking to bed or a dark cave for the rest of my life. Yet I find I can't do that. I can't retract what I've written or adopt an alias or run away and hide. I’ve spent a lifetime pretending and feeling ashamed, and I just can’t go back there.
It’s interesting to me that there’s still so much taboo around female sexuality, in particular around women writing about women’s sexuality—their fears, confusions, and celebrations around it. These are themes that won’t go away in my work because they’re an integral part of who I am. I write to explore. I write to get answers. I write to speak the truth. I write to give voice to my fears, and to try and triumph over them. I just need to find ways to do all of that that will generate good and bring more light to our world.
So this is a farewell of sorts for me, at least until I know what to do next.