Swing it on home

November 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I’m remembering how much I used to love being on a see saw.

The exhilaration of being at the top, feet swinging happily, and never doubting that I’d always be able to push them off the ground and get back up there.

Even as a child I was all or nothing – I’ve never been very good at the grey in-between.

Flickr: enggul

Getting an acceptance email from an editor – yes, yes, we’d like to publish your story– is a feeling like no other. For a woman who rarely lacks words, I’m not sure I can adequately describe it. You could pour me a cloudberry liqueur from the swamps of Finland (seriously, that stuff is like liquid gold), put Elvis on repeat on my stereo, give me a hand massage, present me with a goat’s cheese and orange syrup salad with gingerbread croutons (Cafe Novo in Brussels, I love you), fill my arms with gingham underwear, red peep toe stilettos and the complete words of Vladimir Nabokov, and I’d still take the acceptance email instead.

But I’d probably sneak some goat’s cheese while your back was turned…I can’t be trusted around that stuff, seriously.

I’ve had dozens of stories published and still, each one is beyond exciting. It’s euphoric. Full stop. But then the ground comes hurtling towards you and you slam feet first into the mud with a politely worded We don’t think this piece is quite right for us email.

I got two of them this weekend. Damn, hey? One I’d been waiting three months for, the other three weeks. I caught sight of myself in the screen of my computer and saw a tight little mouth and a scowl that did my Medusa tattoo proud. Then I did the only thing I could: I spent the night editing it, and sent it off to another publisher. Then I ate half a pineapple, listened to Big Mama Thornton (a woman who truly knew the meaning of the blues), and edited two more stories and sent them off too, to different literary journals.

Submitting stories is such a confronting experience. But it also presents an amazing learning curve, and I know each one makes me a better writer, in some small way. I’m also extremely lucky to have had more acceptances than rejections, so I know all I have to do is get back on that damn see saw, even if it feels like this:

Flickr: Autowitch

Those emails still sting, but I’m getting better at hitting the ground and remembering to stop a moment and feel the coolness of the mud, oozing between my toes.



  1. Matthew Dalton said,

    Would you take an arm load of rejections for one acceptance letter?

    I have just listened to a Radio National ‘All in the Mind’ episode in which they discussed how persistence and living between acceptance and failure is what makes one better at just about anything.

    I think most of us who have read your stories believe that they will ultimately prevail.

    I am all rejections so far.

  2. inkymouth said,

    I think an armload of rejections is worth one acceptance letter, yes – that thrill is beyond exquisite. A very dear friend kissed my forehead on the weekend and told me to just keep writing, because ‘a person who always succeeds isn’t truly pushing their limits.’ I like that, very much.

    “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years”…this, about Nabokov’s ‘Lolita.’ Matthew, remember that writers who get rejections are in VERY good company, after all!

  3. gretchen said,

    Don’t fret babe, it’s only a matter of time before Writers take publishing back completely into our own hands. Every self-published success on Amazon says just that – and gets louder by the second. For every piece rejected you should be thankful, when it comes time to self-publish, imagine the returns… more open red peep toe stilettos than you can shake a stick at. x

    • inkymouth said,

      Be careful what you say, woman – I can shake a stick like you wouldn’t believe! I have a lot to learn about publicity and marketing before I even consider self publishing. Thankfully I have this curly tressed, dirty laughing sister scribe way over the other side of the world who knows that business inside out X x

  4. loopsta said,

    Ah yes….it truly is always good to stop and feel the coolness of the mud. Something which I think you’ve been doing oh so well in many aspects of life, for quite some time.
    You are wonderful, and I truly miss you!


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