Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Life is a Toilet

Some of you may recall the self-deprecating crap I posted about a week and half ago about submitting a short story to a few literary journals for the first time. "Woe is stupid me," I said. "What I put on paper is nothing more than shit-turned-ink, and no literary publication worth its weight in fecal material would publish anything I write."

Well, let me tell you: That was a bunch of bullshit. Self-deprecation is a tool I use to hide my raging megalomania. Okay, maybe it's not raging, but it's there. To wit: Every day for the last week-and-a-half I have dug through my mail for hidden envelopes bearing letters saying, "Christ almighty, your short story was so fucking good we can't even operate the telephone right now." I've been checking my cell phone voicemail (since I put my cell phone number on my submissions), waiting to hear, "Great Caesar's Ghost, we can operate neither a computer nor pen-and-paper because we are so smitten by your story!" I've also checked my e-mail regularly for a message stating, "Holy jumping Jehosephat ..." You get the picture.


I've gotten one lousy e-mail from the Indiana Review advising me that my literary scrap heap arrived in their mailbox. I guess that's good news.

Now, the savvy ones of you are thinking: "What a dork. Literary magazines take weeks to get back to anyone, regardless of who it is or what they wrote." And that may be true. But beneath all the self-deprecation, my secret hope was that someone would open my envelope, absent-mindedly scan the first couple sentences, set down his cup of coffee for a closer look, finish the story, and immediately pick up the phone to make sure his journal gets first dibs on me.

Again, nothing. That appears not to have occurred.

Secret hopes make the world go 'round, right? So now my secret hope is that someone, somewhere, has read my story, and was so absolutely flabbergasted by it that his life has ground to a total halt while he tries to summon the strength to scratch out a response ... Just a word, scrawled in the shaky hand of a madman ... "ACCEPTED."

In the time it's taken to write this, I've still received nothing. Nothing. What a bunch of crap this life is.


Blogger Magazine Man said...

Self-deprecation is an excellent tool for passing the time, and I would not presume to interrupt the process, nor to tell you that you MUST chill as regards the waiting-to-hear-back-from-people thing. Because really, that's not advice I would follow.

In fact, I too longed for that scrawled "accepted" on letters. The closest I ever got was a scrawled note that read "Folksy realism robs narrative of substance, depth" like it was a headline reporting a crime--"police convene special investigation into substance, depth robbery"--that sorta thing.

Give those literary dweebs at least another 24 hours before you start in on the master-level self-deprecating.

And BTW, it's not weird at all to want to see a pic of my wife in a bikini. Hey, I feel the same way. :-)

Hang in there. You WILL prevail!

9:52 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

Crap. I was going to have one of my (our) NY friends call you and do this bit about being an editor at the New Yorker who got your piece and wanted to publish it. Now, I'll feel like a shit if I did that. Thats very different from being a shit, which I probably am, because it adds an extra, considerably more uncomfortable level of self-awareness.

Fingers crossed for you, friend.

11:51 PM  
Blogger tequilita said...

i love hearing you guys write about writing...it's so real, and funny. keep hope alive spiral.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

Joseph, I would have been onto your tomfoolery: I didn't submit my story to the New Yorker. Though megalomania sometimes gets the better of me, even then I am not so deluded to think that the NYer would do anything other than use my story as birdcage lining.

Kimberly, thanks. Would you mind starting a literary magazine and publishing my story? I'd really appreciate it.

Seriously, though, I'm not the only one who harbors secret fantasies of being "discovered," am I? It doesn't have to be about writing. Maybe it's the dream of someone spotting you shooting baskets and saying, "What perfect form! How did this schlubby 33-year-old not get signed to an NBA team?" Or maybe it's at your job: "This is the most eloquent TPS report I've ever seen. You're promoted to President!"

Or, maybe we hope for recognition through blogging. Blogging is, in itself, an awfully vain activity, isn't it?

I'm not alone in hoping for unreasonable and unearned success, am I?

8:38 AM  
Blogger tequilita said...

blogging is silly, and vain, and megalomaniacal and for me, it's an experiment. just one more way to stretch creative muscles. and regrettably, i have no literary rag for you, but i'd love to read your story. you should post it. maybe an alternate blog, like henry did?

10:58 AM  
Blogger Henry Baum said...

I once spent every day of a summer waking up and hoping for a phone call. It’s not such a great way to live. They might write you back instead of calling. Or maybe they’re so overcome by your genius that you’ve given them a stroke and they can’t reach the phone. It’s your own fault.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Jen O. said...

Having previously worked for a lit mag, I can tell you that it took us MONTHS to respond to writers. The mags are staffed with the unpaid and the overworked, and are often more interested in talking to each other than stuffing envelopes with rejection letters.

Maybe you could learn to smoke instead?

5:08 PM  

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