Saturday, August 8, 2009

In The Ring

I’m back in the ring, throwing punches. Shortly after writing my last post, I returned to the book I’m currently reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a surprisingly wonderful read (a book in letters?) and my mood immediately lightened.

Later, I returned to my emails, rereading all the mail I’d received while in Ireland, and updated my submissions log (rejected, rejected, rejected). However, there was heartening mail also: a email from a writer and editor I greatly admire and respect inviting me to submit to a journal she’s guest-editing; a rewrite request from an excellent magazine I’d love to place work with; and the excellent and encouraging edits and feedback from Matt Bell (via Dzanc Creative Writing Sessions) on a story that I know has the potential to be great. Okay, I thought, there’s something, there’s light.

I returned to my blog, thrilled to receive a comment from Tanita Davis. Tanita always seems to know just what to say to put me back on my feet, dusting myself off and getting going again. Next I decided to update my list of published works on my blog, citing what went live during my absence. My latest work is in PANK, Bound-Off, Up The Staircase, The Northville Review, The Shine Journal, Southpaw Journal, Ocho # 25, Cantaraville Magazine, & LitNImage. And there’s more coming. Not too shabby, I thought, brightening more.

Then, surprise, surpise, Eric Beeny also commented on my latest post, words and a sense of solidarity that I deeply appreciated. It hit me then that, really, I’ve no idea who reads my blog and my work, no real sense of how much my words impact others. But the possibilities are endless, and that’s deeply humbling and gratifying. So bolstered, I returned to my work and started revising first one story, then another, and finally a third. I felt the load lifting.

Word by word, I thought. That’s all I have to do. Go word by word, and try to do my best each and every time. I am a writer. I should never have allowed any person, place, or circumstance to interfere with that. I need to write, otherwise I’m miserable. I also need to embrace the writer’s life, there’s a lot to celebrate and feel grateful for, and just suck-up its perils and pitfalls.

So I’m back in the ring, realizing that my opponent, the one in blue, is my internal critic, that voice that torments me with “you’ll never make it, you’ll never be good enough, you don’t have what it takes,” and rather than following my first instinct and slugging the bitch, I hold her in a bear hug until she quiets down and then I tell her in a firm, but calm, voice, to step aside and get out of my way, because I’m coming through. She’s not holding me back any longer. Watch out, folks.

And thanks, friends. You all know who you are.


  1. Glad to see you back in the ring. Where you belong.

  2. I was going to comment on your last post, but I'm glad I read this most recent one. We all have those dark spells, bad patches, whatever you want to call them. I think you got it right: word by word. And not writing for a month and spending all that time with family -- no wonder you came back home and hit a wall! Glad you're over it, through it, and, most importantly, writing again.

  3. One of those 80's pop psychology phrases stuck in my head, the one about "changing tapes." The "tapes" we play in our heads (okay, CD's, now -- or MP3's?) about failure and how we'll never get anywhere - you're right, those voices are echoes of our pasts, the beeyatches in blue. And I love how you deal with your metaphorical self -- because it IS you. You hold it. You hold it with love, but with firmness, until it stops screaming and flailing, aan't hurt itself/you any longer. And then you set it aside, tell it that YOU are always going to win, get up, and go on. Like a grown-up.

    You've got that Momma Writer thing going on.

  4. Thanks, all, I so appreciate the support. Andrew, great to hear from you; again, I'm touched and humbled.