On accepting the marathon between the sprints

good enough

Last night I received a rejection letter.

At this point in my writing career, I’m pretty thick skinned. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times and I still have four published works and several published short stories and poems. I know that rejection isn’t the be all end all. Still, this one hurt, and I’ll tell you why.

Just kidding. I’m not going to get into specifics-that’s not professional. What I will say is that the pain came more from my own laser focused attention on that particular submission. Instead of living my life as I ought to I instead spent every other minute refreshing my email or daydreaming about how great my life would be once my contract was sent over. I did this day in and day out. Every day that I didn’t receive a response was agonizing, because it meant that I won myself another day in limbo, waiting, waiting, waiting.

I imagine many of the writers that did get rejection emails during this time are throwing popcorn at me right now. That’s fair-carry on.

This particular submission came with a three month response deadline, so I knew that even if I had to keep waiting, there would be an end, and it came very, very slowly. On the day the deadline was set I stared holes into my computer screen and even tweeted about the experience, which I normally don’t do. I wanted it. Bad.

Then…nothing. Nothing happened. The days kept passing, and I still heard nothing. It was like being in the ninth month of pregnancy, where everyone around me kept asking, “Any word yet?” and I would sigh and tell them no, still nothing.

It took two more months to get to today, where I now know that my book will have to find a home elsewhere. After six months of waiting in a fever dream of hope and nerves and anxiety, my suffering was ended (and expedited) with a nicely worded email explaining why I didn’t quite make it to the finish line.

I’m telling you this story because as a writer, you are going to need to train your mind for a marathon. It’s not easy. You will get to mile twenty and stumble. You will wipe out, and you won’t see it coming. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. You are going to face heartbreaking rejections, and after spending half a year of your life wondering, you may learn that all your thoughts and positive affirmations were for naught, and you are back to square one.

There is a reason so many people give up on writing. Do not do this. Do not go to the couch and grab your potato chips and phone it in-I’m sticking with my metaphor, see? Stand up, brush yourself off, and begin again. As my dear friend (not really) Rudyard Kipling says in my favorite poem:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

And so on. You get the point here. Writing is hard. Querying is hard. Rejection is hard. Being an author is hard. It’s also the greatest thing you can ever do, and I would rather fail at it every day than succeed at anything else. And so-

Back to square one, and forward ho.

 

Our Newborn BookBaby Photo Shoot!

On February 5th we were so thrilled to welcome our new little blessing into the world! As many authors know, putting a book into the world is very difficult. It takes a long time to grow and develop the ideas, then to put them on paper, then to get those words accepted by a publisher or agent. We are so #blessed that our new little bundle of joy gets to be shared with everyone.

Scroll down to check out our photo shoot! We love you, little Home!

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Light of our life!

 

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Lil’ cutie!

 

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Sibling love! ❤ ❤ ❤

 

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Be careful with that precious bundle, Mr. Bear!

 

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One proud Mama!

 

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Outtakes with the other sibling ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We are so in love! Thanks for all the support and well wishes! Back to some more sleepless nights at the typewriter lololsies!

Anthropodermic Bibliopegy: A Speculative Fiction Horror Story

I slid another acid free folder over from the pile on my desk and rubbed the sandpaper scratch from my eyes.

How long had I been at this?

I glanced around the room and realized that the hazy glow of my lamp was the only island of light in a sea of darkness extending as far as I could see. I’d gotten so lost in my research I completely lost track of time, and apparently it was late.

Very late.

The shuffle of footsteps interrupted my thoughts, and the librarian opened the door to the archive. She was heavy set, her protruding stomach barely hidden beneath a large, flower printed shirt. Her hair was mousy brown with thin streaks of silver striking through in various places. She nodded to me as she always did, her watery blue eyes focused on my face.

“Late night again, huh?” she asked. Her voice had the essence of gravel, as though she’d used it far too long and it never fully healed from the damage. I nodded and sat back in my chair, the bones in my ass protesting from being stuck in a hard wooden seat for hours.

“I’m almost done, I think. Just need a few more resources to finish my thesis.”

“That’s great honey,” she crooned. “I’ve been thinking about you, you know.”

I lifted an eyebrow. The woman was clearly off, but I had no idea what affliction she suffered from. I didn’t want to ask. All I wanted was to finish this damn research so I could get my PhD and move on with my life.

“There’s a collection we have in the back. Very rare, but I think you might find it useful. It might gross you out a little though.”

This snatched my curiosity.

“Why is that?”

She leaned in and held up her hand, like there was anyone else to hear our conversation.

“The books are fashioned with human skin,” she whispered.

The glint in her eye told me she had a clear fascination for the macabre. I glanced down at my table of documents and realized I really didn’t have the time or energy to keep going.

“Another time, maybe. I think I need to go. I’m sorry I’ve kept you here this late.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble,” she said. Why did she sound disappointed? Was I making that up?

I reached across the table and started replacing the documents to put away when her hand gripped my wrist. I looked up at her, but she wasn’t looking at me this time.

She was looking at my arm.

“Has your skin always looked like that?” she asked.

I froze, not sure if I was more offended at her touching me or bringing up my vitiligo. When she didn’t let go, I figured I had to answer her if I wanted to be free.

“Always,” I said through gritted teeth. After a heavy pause, she released me and I jerked my hand back as I stood.

“You’ve been a loyal patron to this library for a long time,” she said.

I needed to get out. The weird librarian was even worse after hours.

“Yes,” I mumbled. I grabbed my satchel and stood with what I hoped was a pointed social cue that I was ready to leave. The woman didn’t move.

“Have you thought about increasing that loyalty?” she asked.

I bit back a frustrated sigh. I couldn’t even go to the library anymore without someone asking for some fucking donation? Was nothing sacred?

“I think I’m loyal enough, thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I walked toward the door, but a vicelike grip held my wrist, and when I turned the librarian was there, her eyes glassy and intent as ever.

What the hell?

“Your skin is absolutely beautiful. I don’t think you realize how perfect you are.”

“I’ve accepted myself fine. Please let me go.”

She didn’t. Her grip tightened.

“You may not want to take my offer, but I’m afraid it wasn’t really an option, dear. I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time. I’m afraid I can’t let you go, but you can rest assured that your loyal donation will be a great asset to the library.”

I tore my hand from her surprisingly strong grip and stepped back.

“I’m not donating to your fucking library, lady. Now leave me alone.”

She frowned, then turned away. I felt bad having to be so rude, but seriously. She started it.

When she turned back to face me, something glinted in her hand.

A knife. A really, really big one.

“What the fuck?” I shouted.

The sound of my voice dissolved in the ancient room. She stared at me as though nothing was amiss, like we were talking about the weather.

My heart pounded in my throat.

“You won’t be sorry. Your book will be the only one with those distinctive markings. It will be the most beautiful in the collection. It’s a worthy donation-you’ll be a part of this library forever.”

“I’m calling the cops! Get away from me!”

I turned and threw open the glass doorway to the archive. My legs burned as I sprinted through the dark, stacks of books on either side of me. When I reached the front doors I pressed the bar to escape and was met with a sharp stop.

The library intercom scratched on, and the librarian’s voice echoed through the entire building.

“I should have mentioned that we have special locks to keep folks inside now. You know, with all those terrible school shootings.”

I was trapped. The woman wanted my skin, literally, for some weird book collection? My blood pounded through my temples as a drop of sweat escaped my hairline and inched toward my chin. There had to be a fire escape somewhere. There had to be.

I ran away from the front lobby. If I could hide in the stacks long enough I could find a way out. There had to be a way out.

“The truth is,” she droned on the intercom, “you’re also the perfect age. A child’s skin is too pliable-it breaks far too easily. And of course the elderly have the same problem, and their skin is all pocked and marked with age. No. You have exactly the right combination. You will make a beautiful volume.”

I could hear my pulse pounding inside my head as I fought to control my breath. I slid my back along the shelves as my eyes scanned the outer walls for another door-any kind of place I could lock myself in to keep the woman out.

“You really don’t need to hide from me, little rabbit,” she taunted. “I’ve worked here for many years, waiting for my good luck charm to arrive. You should feel lucky.”

There. A door. It appeared to head to the back stairwell and down to the main road. This was it!

I bolted out from the stacks and ran straight into her knife. She knew that was the only other exit; that I’d head straight for it.

Fuck.

Pain seared through my middle as I collapsed onto the ground. She held my body as though I were a friend, gentle as can be.

“Don’t worry,” she whispered. “It will only hurt until you pass out, but I need you alive for as long as possible for your skin to stay in top condition.

I screamed as she pulled her knife from my belly and began slicing at the skin of my arm, like the thin pages of a book. The scent of hot blood filled the room as my vision swam.

“Thank you for your commitment to the library, dear. It is greatly appreciated,” she said.

The pain was unbearable. I screamed once more until my lungs gave out, and my mind could take no more.

In the end, I became a part of the library’s most grotesque collection, forever hidden from public view, sans one.

The librarian ran her fingers along my skin every day until she died. Only then was my murder discovered, and by then it was far too late.

My soul was damned inside those pages, forever.

 

 

I Am The Mother

I am the mother

I am the forced calm in the tempest of your storms

When you are awake, I give you my sleep

When you cry

My soul peels apart

Absorbing your pain

Before slamming shut

I am the mother

I dwell in a fog that no one can see

Alone

The appearance of strength reminds me

That I am strong

No matter how my mind weeps

For just a breath of my own

I am the mother

The matriarch

The leader of my own tiny clan

And it hurts every day

But I am the mother

Your storms are no match for me

 

What if you don’t?

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This post is a submission for Positive Writer’s “You are Enough” Contest.  Join in-that’s my first piece of advice. 🙂

What if you do? You write that blog, and everyone hates it and smears your name across the internet. Or worse, it’s not acknowledged at all, and your words ring empty though hollow internet caves.

What if you do? You write that book, and no one ever publishes it. You’ve never felt like more of a failure in your life. Why did you even bother? Or maybe you do get published, and no one bothers to read it, or worse, it gets bad reviews. You’re such a hack.

What if you do? Tweet to your heart’s content about the issues deep in your heart, only to get bullied by the virtual mob and left to cry in a corner, bruised and battered by a cruel and unforgiving world.

The pulsing doesn’t stop. Not good enough, not good enough, not good enough. 

Have I reached all your deepest, darkest fears yet? Feeling uncomfortable? Good. You need to feel uncomfortable, because what if you don’t?

What if you don’t? Your words die inside you, and the one book that could have changed someone’s life never gets published. The world, filled with darkness and conflict and hate never sees the ray of light that you could have given. You could have made the difference.

What if you don’t? You’ll never know if you could have made the connection to change a mind, a life, an idea. We live in a world of words, a medium nearly the entire world shares. Even if you don’t touch a million lives, you’ve already touched one by releasing your words into the universe, even if you are the only one to read it. By expressing yourself, you grow and change and mold into who you want to be.

What if you don’t? Writing is a part of you. It’s what makes you who you are. If you live in fear of the opinions and thoughts of others, as so many do, you will fade away into the silence. You know what people regret most on their death bed? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not that they tried and didn’t succeed at the level they wanted.

It’s that they were too scared to try at all. Don’t regret the things you didn’t do. Don’t regret the pieces you didn’t write. Your words matter. Spill them from the keyboard, from a pen, from your heart. If you don’t, the world will never know that you could. You will never know that you could.

What if you don’t spend the rest of your life wondering what you could have made of yourself if you’d tried?

Try. That is the one difference between those who make it and those who don’t. Put your words into the world and set them free, and see what happens.

Yes. People may ignore you.

Yes. People may even be mean to you.

Be brave. Find courage. Accept well meaning critique and get better. Rely on the experience of others who want the same thing you do. Believe in your words. They are important. Find a place for them.

Stop judging the words before they even arrive, and let them come. Pour your soul out and be prepared to let it bruise, but also be prepared to let it soar. Stumbling and falling is all a part of the process, so let it be. Grow. Get your battle scars. Get strong. Become the mentor for others you so badly wish you had.

Just remember. None of this journey is possible unless you start, and keep going. Face your doubt, your fears, your inner turmoil and tell those voices that they mean nothing if you can be heard, seen, read, changed. Writing changes you, but it won’t if you never find the will to do it.

This is your life. How do you want to remember it?

What if you do? What if you make it, and your wildest dreams come true? What if you get the life you’ve always dreamed of, because you put yourself out there and you never gave up?

And what if you don’t? You know the answer to that.

Yes, you are enough. Now let’s see what you’ve got.

Don’t Judge Me: A Fill in the Blank Parenting Article

Are you a parent? Are you tired of the internet and people around you being all judgey because you parent in a certain way? Tired of reading a million articles about the myriad of ways people think you’re terrible at raising children?

Then look no further! This fill in the blank article will fulfill all your complaining needs about how obnoxious the world is for modern day moms and dads. Whenever you want to feel strongly about how you’re doing with those little minions you’ve created, come back and read this, and it will make you feel vindicated. Here we go!

Don’t Judge Me Just Because I ____________.

You. Yeah, you. I see you. Casting sideways glances at me as my child does __________________ in public. Screw you, man! Raising kids is hard, and I love the little monsters! You think this is so easy? Just because I gave my kid __________milk/formula when they were little doesn’t make me a bad parent. Maybe you should rethink your life if you’re spending all that time judging me, huh? Shaddup.

Oh, and by the way, I am well within my rights to let my kid watch _________ and read ____________. That’s the way I parent. In the words of my child, “Leave me the _____ alone!” Yeah, my kid uses words like that. Not your problem, is it?

And while we’re at it, just because my child spends their day at _____________ has nothing to do with how they’ll be as adults. I’ll raise them exactly as I see fit, and its nonya businez, ya dig? The fact that I let my kids do __________________ at this age is also none of your concern. They’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

I get that we all have opinions. If any internet comments section has taught me anything that is literally the only lesson you can find there. When it comes to parenting my child, though, you can back the _______ off. They are healthy, happy, and thriving, no matter how many _______________ I let them eat every day.

Please kindly mind your __________ business, and I’ll mind mine.

Also if you don’t mind watching the kids for a bit while I nap, that would be _____________.