Saturday, March 24, 2012


In the midst of the chaos of the last two months, undoubtedly because of the chaos, I realized one thing. I must write again, and write more, at all costs. That whole cliche about the suffering artist, who feels her soul is ripped from her body if she can't persue her art-- that has been me.
The price of the past year's medical confusion has been writing. I've only done it in tiny snatches, and mostly not at all. The memoir I've had to box up entirely because the project just seemed too big.
Instead I've edited a handful of short stories, written two short ones, and used my spare fifteen-minutes a day to keep sending my stories to magazines-- one story in particular, called Maximum Love, which received many encouraging, personally-written rejections from editors who told me they liked it, it was so funny and original, but they just didn't have space, or didn't like the ending, or didn't know why this character said thus and such, blah blah blah.
I rewrote and rewrote that story, and every time I received a rejection I sent it to four more journals.
But mostly I didn't write. I kept saying, soon things will get better, be patient, it's just around the corner. Days, weeks and months ticked by and I found myself that dark, soul-ripped place. I cried on and off for days, and came to the conclusion I needed help. In a concrete way, I needed someone to do my dishes and laundry and pick up my supplements and keep the apartment allergen-free. Because I needed any time at all back so I could write again.
My mother and The Poet agreed whole-heartedly, and now I have someone coming three times a week to do all those things. It feels better, much better. At first this just meant I spent more time on medical appointments, but this week I wrote a bit more.
There is this guilty part of me that keeps saying: how can your family be paying for someone to do chores for you just so you can indulge yourself in writing? You're a grown woman, can't you take care of yourself, do you really need your grapes peeled? But The Poet and my mom and other close friends have kept saying no, this is important, you need this. Thank god for their encouragement, I am acually crying from gratitude while I write these last two sentences.
The short stories are sticky-- I get a new idea for one, and I want to write a draft while it's glowing in my head. Then I need to edit and edit the last one I wrote. Then there are the submissions, which always take thrice the time I anticipitated. I get so caught up in the yo-yo of short stories that the memoir never happens.
So this week I gave myself a deadline. Finish up the shorts and go back to the memoir. Something book-length is so daunting when I'm feeling this sick. On the other hand, I'd planned to finish it last July and August, and it hurts how long I've delayed. So no more.
Maybe there was something about that resolution. I opened my e-mail Sunday to see a reply on my story Maximum Love. Ho-hum. I couldn't even work up an ounce of nervousness, or hope, or even dread, just boredom at the thought of one more more rejection. I opened the message.
"We want to publish Maximum Love," they wrote. "We love it." At last! A perfect send-off from the universe's chaos. Time to put the stories to rest, get back to the book.
Yesterday I sent out ten new submissions for my most recent story, and those are my last submissions for a long time. This morning I'm updating the blog. Tomorrow, or perhaps this afternoon even, I will open the box that holds draft 2 of the memoir.

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