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.