Writing Therapy

They didn’t “fall in love” with it. That’s what the editors at the famous journal told me in an email about my essay “The Fall.

So I right away started making plans for submitting it to the next tier of journals. Simultaneous submission it’s called, meaning I could send it to a dozen places at the same time and wait to see which, if any, said yes.

I’ve been trying to ramp up my writing life, get out of the minor leagues, no, out of little league, and submitting is a big part of that. You know, the 100 rejections challenge – if you don’t get 100 rejections a year, you’re not trying hard enough.

It was on my way to the bathroom, though, that it hit me. “Fuck it,” I thought, I don’t have time to wait for somebody to fall in love with my essay. It’s like sitting in a metal rowboat in the hot sun watching a single bobber sitting perfectly still atop the water. If there were fish down there, the bobber would be moving. You know that and I know that but yet we sit and watch the red and white bobber just existing as if it wasn’t complete and utter folly to think a giant pike is circling below. There is no pike. That is the truth.

So, no, I’m not going to let my weird little essay with its aging angst get the side eye for months while I sit here in my metal rowboat and wait like the world’s dumbest fisherman. I’m 70. I could be dead and buried before somebody falls in love with a piece so odd, so reeking of melancholy and envy, and agedness, especially that. Or not, I don’t know. I could be completely wrong. It sometimes happens.

I decided to give “The Fall” a home right here, share it with people who would understand the point, appreciate this peculiar and rich time of life, and I wasn’t disappointed in the response. It was lovely.

My ambivalence about ‘being published’ remains. Minutes after I swore off the hunt, someone sent me a notice about an upcoming anthology. What is it, I wonder, that is so alluring about being published. I had a piece, a beloved piece that took a dozen revisions to get right, that was published last year in a book that sits on my coffee table and I haven’t opened it since the day it came in the mail. Six people have probably read it.

Writing this I realize that the same comeuppance I gave myself about another topic fits here. I need to stop being such a little flower. They didn’t fall in love with it, can you believe that? Incredible.

Thank you for hearing me out. You all are such great therapists.





12 thoughts on “Writing Therapy

  1. Your essay was gorgeous. Fie on the literary gatekeepers I say! If it had been published elsewhere, would I have seen it? Doubtful and, while you may think this is all about you, Jan, its about us, your readers, too. Thank you for publishing The Fall to your blog and giving it an audience I doubt you would have found elsewhere. Therein lies the conundrum of the successful blogger when seeking publication beyond the blog. Congratulations on writing a finely polished, moving, relateable essay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I think you are right. There isn’t really an audience elsewhere. The audience is here! And I really appreciate the people who follow my blog. Thanks for sorting through that and for your generous words about the essay.

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  2. I quit writing for books, anthologies, whatever. I wrote professionally my whole life and now, I want to have fun with it. It would be nice to be discovered, but it won’t be for the manuscript on which I’m working because I’m not working on a manuscript. Someone asked me if I didn’t just want to see my byline in print and I said: “Not unless they are planning to pay me for it.”

    I’ve gotten plenty of bylines over the years. At this point, if it doesn’t put money in the bank or just make me laugh with joy, blogging is just fine, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Paula Lucey

    “they”don’t live in fear of falling and all that could happen if you do fall. The first question when I went to the ortho doc last week, ” have you fallen in the last 6 months”. and I had so that was an immediate black mark. Today with the pretty snow I was deadly afraid to leave the house perhaps to fall. So someday when ” they” are a little older, they might realize that they missed a gem.

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  4. The Cat's Write

    The Fall was so well written! How could someone not fall in love with it? I went through the same thing with my short story ‘Two Weeping Willows’, and it’s nowhere near as well written as yours. I think I really had no hope! I published my story to my blog, like you, where it can sit eternally, to be read far more often than it would have in some non-script online literary magazine or rarely-opened print anthology hahaha

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Garry Armstrong

        Jan, so glad to read this piece. It’s really instructive for us wannabes. I know it’s hard on the psyche. I have lots of “hardware” from life as a TV news reporter but pure writing is a new ballgame for me. “The book” will never happen unless I follow your advice. Thanks so much for this and here’s to success in your ventures.

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