At one point, I was on fire to be a published author. I transitioned out of practicing law and began learning how to write. I went to writers conferences (Sewanne for fiction, Kenyon Review for nonfiction). I read goo-gobs of books. I submitted my work to literary journals, keeping a methodical record of what I sent where, who requested more work, what they had liked. I entered contests. All of this led to much publication – essays, short stories, memoirs, magazine articles, radio commentaries – and awards and contests won. But then I stalled.
I couldn’t get anyone interested in publishing my full-length literary works. Not the memoir – yes, we want chapters; no, we don’t want the full memoir. Same thing for the short stories and essays: pieces published all over the place; not the collections. And—no matter how high they’d placed in contests—certainly no one wanted any of my five novels.
Over the last two years, I’ve quit. I quit submitting, saying it was because I was spending so much time on my novel-writing/revision. I quit attending conferences, telling myself it was because I’d done that; the next thing needed to be something more.
The truth is, I did what my favorite quote says not to do: Never, never, never give up (Winston Churchill). I didn’t give up on writing; I gave up on the writing community. I gave up on them wanting my work and, in a “I can take a hint” reaction, I walked away.
Time for a change. I’ve signed up to go to the Oxford Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference , put on by my writing friend, Susan Cushman. Even more telling, I’m writing a check to renew my Poets and Writers magazine subscription. The magazine was the first thing published authors told me I needed to do: join the community by taking this magazine. Who knows – so much time has passed, maybe this advice is no longer viable. It doesn’t matter. The check is mostly symbolic. It’s my way of saying, yes, I do want to be part of your community. I intend to get back in the game.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .