In lieu of an actual blog post this week, I wanted to share my latest publication with you. My prose poem entitled “Graveside Wedding,” was published in the May/June issue of Unbroken. This is the first poem I’ve published since my high school literary magazine days, so for obvious reasons I’m pretty excited. My poem is on page 69 of the link above, but I hope you read all of the amazing poets in this issue.
Until next time.
Two days ago Daisy, a dear friend of the family lost her 7-year battle with cancer. This woman, my mother’s best friend, has been in my life since I started Kindergarten. She’d been at every birthday party, graduation, and religious ceremony I’d ever had. I could
Daisy and me on my wedding day
describe our relationship to be of the aunt/niece variety, complete with plenty of adolescent drama.
When my husband and I decided to get married in September without the bells and whistles of a big wedding, she was one of the select few people who knew about it. And she was there, filming the entire ceremony on my Android phone while I said my vows under a tent in my childhood backyard. When I look at my marriage certificate, it is her scratchy penmanship that stares back at me from the witness line.
I had planned to visit her in the hospital on Wednesday night. I got the message just a few hours before leaving work that she was already gone. While I wish I had the chance to say goodbye, I’m almost glad I didn’t. The final image I have of her is the one from my wedding day, crying just as hard as my own mother was, and not the image of her wasting away in a hospital room.
Today I need to sit through her memorial service. I say “need to” not because I feel forced to attend, but rather because I consider the funeral to be the toughest part in coping with death. After this, I’ll have time to process the loss, maybe even write about her more in-depth.
I know this post is doing a poor job at describing who Daisy was, but I didn’t want to risk the cliche descriptions that people use like, “she was a good person” or “she could light up the room with her smile.” This post is more for me anyway, as selfish as that sounds.
I love my local library. This past Summer, I spent every Friday afternoon there slowly browsing the shelves. I would check out a stack of books each visit and have them all read in time for the following week’s trip.
Then I had to join the real world, and my weekly library visits (and my free time) disappeared completely. I took to downloading audiobooks from my library’s digital collection so that I could “read” while cleaning and cooking or doing other mindless tasks. For the most part, audiobooks have been nothing but a positive experience. I’m so happy that I listened to Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch on audiobook, because hearing the different voices, fluent foreign languages, and accents really brought the stories to life. David Sedaris has become my trusted companion on long car rides.
The most recent audiobook I’ve listened to is Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, and it was almost a book that I was going to call it quits on. I was bored, confused, and frustrated with how slow the narrator was reading. Its only saving grace was the fact that I had some free time this past weekend to make a much desired trip to the library, and that the colorful hardcover spine of the book jumped out at me from its shelf. I decided to give it one more shot.
I began reading the paper version of the book from the place I left off in the audiobook. I’m glad that I gave the book a second chance, because I found the story to be much more enthralling in print. I finished the story in two days because I searched for every opportunity to read it, whereas it had taken almost two months to get through the first 3 hours of the audiobook.
I thought initially that the audio version confused me because I was too distracted while listening. With the print version in hand, I realized I was confused because the audio gave no indication of flashbacks. In print, the jumps in time are clearly marked, which made transitions seamless.
While it seems standard these days that every printed book eventually receives an audio version, I think this does a disservice to some books. Certain things are lost when you don’t have the text in front of you, especially in the case where time is manipulated. I wonder how many people have given up on a book because the audiobook ruined the story for them?
I spent the better part of last semester pulling my hair out over grad school applications. I spent countless hours with my head bent over teeny scraps of paper, paper that had once been 8 pages of my writing sample but had been subjected to the old-school cut-and-paste method. I anguished over my personal statement for weeks. I triple-checked each application before it was sent out. I was confident that I’d be accepted into at least a couple of MFA programs.
I just got my third rejection letter this morning.
I’m probably not as upset as I should be. I imagined myself crying over each and every rejection letter that came in, or using those letters as an excuse to consume disgusting quantities of Cherry Garcia in one sitting. But really, I’m good. I will admit that the anxiety of waiting for two more schools to give me an answer is slowly killing me though. I mean, if you’re going to rip the band-aid off, might as well do it quickly, right?
I haven’t come to a point yet in my writing career where I’m getting this many rejections in such a short span of time, but I know that kind of life is on the horizon for me. In the next few months I’ll be submitting at least five different pieces to various magazines, and I’m not naive enough to believe that all of them will be chosen for publication. I’m going to be more of a reject than a winner, at least for awhile, and I don’t mind belonging to the rejects corner. I have a lot to learn still, and not everyone is going to be okay with the kind of things I write. Besides, I think that finally being accepted somewhere will feel ten times sweeter after a wave of “nos” right?
People underestimate the draining powers of the grad school application. I’ve known for years that I wanted to get my MFA in fiction. I started preparing for this process way back in June 2013, with the intention of spending my entire summer working on perfecting the stories I would use for my writing sample. I would create the perfect personal statement within that time as well, the one that would blow away each and every person reading it.
But we know that none of that actually happened. I was scrambling to complete a shoddy 500 word personal statement this past Sunday and submitting writing samples that are nowhere near done (at least by my standards). I’m not lazy, I promise. I don’t wait until the very last minute to do anything important either. But honestly, even if I finished everything three months ago, would I still have been happy with it? Probably not.
I dragged my feet for so long because I was so worried about pleasing complete strangers. While I was doing these applications, I lost focus on the real reason why I was going through this process and spending a crap-ton of money on applications in the first place. I wanted 24 perfect pages, pages that could be immediately submitted to literary magazines around the country for publication. But I wasn’t writing for myself, and you can only come up with the good stuff when you’re doing it for you. So instead of writing, I sat there worrying about having the perfect plot, the perfect sentence, the perfect imagery, and all of the other stuff that doesn’t matter anyway, because my heart wasn’t in what I was doing the way it should have been. I put too much pressure on myself, which might hurt me in the end.
Either way, I gave it my best shot, and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time doing this. I have one more application to submit and then I can breathe easy. Then maybe I’ll go back and rip those stories to shreds, without concerning myself with page limits or the use of excessive expletives.