Friday, June 18, 2010

Razor's Edge 6/18/10

This is the day for the Razor's Edge. Instead of prompts, I'm going to share a story. A true story - but a story, still. The theme of this post is, Contradictions. How sometimes we have to take what is and look ahead and move on, even though it seems like we might want to pause. Or, at least I do.

This is another example of what Pamela calls, Resiliency.

I'm working on it.

Behind me here in the cafe, at the tall faux marble table along the inside wall, are two students studying their Chinese medicine. At first I wasn't sure what they were doing - talking about swollen lips and, by their description, it may have been a human specimen or a car or some unknown piece of machinery. But now they have moved on to talking about stagnant Chi and I know. It's Chinese medicine - and they are probably acupuncture students from the school out a couple miles, just past where I live. They've come here, a little further in toward downtown, to escape the other students that are crammed in the cafe just up the street from my house.

Stagnant Chi. That's what I'm trying to avoid by moving forward with this Oregon Literary Fellowship application.

See, today I found out that another submitted story was rejected. This is the life of the writer. Keep the stories going out and wait to see what happens, which is very often rejection. I'm not sure right now when the balance starts to tip so that there might be more acceptances than rejections, but, like visual artists, writers have to be able to take the rejections, which are numerous. For most of us. And victories are to be cherished and worn as badges of honor - such as honorable mentions, like my writing friend Christi just received from Glimmer Train. A big congratulations to her and I hope she holds that Honorable Mention high, like the Olympic torch, and lets it light her days and nights.

So another of my stories was rejected. And I have to have the Oregon Literary Fellowships (OLF) application in by next Friday, if I'm going to do it. I've wondered whether to try or not. One friend told me it was very difficult to get and very few are selected and it was way too much work. He applied once, years ago, and it was not worth the effort, he thought. Another friend who has read a lot of my work encouraged me to do it. And I first heard about it from a published writer who thought I might want to give it a shot (my words, not hers). And I asked another published writer-friend-mentor for advice and, while she doesn't know anyone who has ever won one so she doesn't have any specific advice, she said it would be good to try and gave me some advice about the submission from an editor/judge-of-a-different-residency experience standpoint.

And here I am in the cafe with the women studying about Chi and sad about my piece not being published and looking at the two sets of poems and two personal essays and one more short story that are out there being considered. And I just finished pasting and editing my writing sample submission for the OLF into a new document. I will read it aloud later to find places where more tightening or other editing is required. I made more notes for the questions I have to answer.

And I will submit. I will give it a try even though part of me is in that post-rejection what's-it-all-for-anyway-no-one-will-pick-me mood. I am resilient and I will keep on trying.

As my writer-friend-mentor who moved away to Santa Fe said, "I don't think there is any harm in applying. It is a lot of work, but I think sometimes the process helps clarify a project and gives us a deadline for the story rewrites. I think you have as good a chance as anyone." She's right. So far this has helped me come up with an intent for my writing, something I've been unable to put into words. Until now.

Reject. Reflect. Rewrite.


Ah, the life of a writer!

What are two or three of your contradictions right now? Go: write!


  1. Boy, do I know that post rejection mood: it hits hard even when I know the rejection is coming. That's always a good time for me to look back and see how far I've come with my writing.

    And, I love what your writer-friend-mentor said, there's no hard in applying. That's similar to my mantra: I have nothing to lose by submitting.

    And, all of a sudden an Honorable Mention rolls my way.

    Yes, yes, yes. Apply! Send that baby out and forget about it for a while.

    Sending you virtual hugs your way, Dot :)

  2. Thanks for the reminder to look at accomplishments, Christi! And for sharing your mantra - I like it.

    I don't think I'll regret submitting to OLF - but know I would wonder and regret *not* submitting.

    Okay - here I go...