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NTKOG #58: The kind of girl who gets her non-ironic Plath on and — gulp! — submits some of her poetry to an actual friggin’ literary journal!

I am: afraid enough of failure that sometimes I forget to admit to myself that I want to be a Real Published Author. Hence the drawer full of pretty okay work that I’ve just never submitted anywhere, because I am so seduced by the infinite potential of what might have been.

I am not,: that said, actually a poet. My writing talents fall strictly in the realm of short stories and the occasional retweetable aphorism.

The Scene: My apartment. My goddamned apartment, where I have been holed away for three days like a Proustian aunt awaiting death, drowning (absolutely drowning) in used Kleenex and self-pity for my raging cold. Hence the self-helpier-than-usual post, and my unusual silence the past several days.

Although I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it now, I went through a bit of a poetry tear during my senior year at university. I became obsessed with syllabatonic poetry (Russians are the masters), and decided that writing a series of sonnets would help train me to inflict maximum violence upon language, making my proser denser and more packed with sharp edges.

Oh, well, and I guess it didn’t hurt that I was in the throes of a mad crush for a grad student in my department. He had a corrected harelip and for some reason I found it unbearably sexy. Clearly fertile emotional grounds for the budding young sonnetist.

Anyway, a couple of the poems (despite their embarrassing and old-fashioned insistence on being sonnets) turned out like pretty okay, and so last night I rounded up a few, chose a few journals with decently low acceptance rates on Duotrope, and — gasp! — actually sent them out. No editing. No angsting. Just a short, funny cover letter and, bam, some of my actual, real-life writing spirited away for real literary dudes to read.

I felt relieved. I felt empowered. I felt fucking terrified.

Obviously no word back yet, so the verdict is apt to change. Also, because there is so little meat to this story so far — you guys, it’s a bad idea. It’s a really really bad idea. And it makes me positively vom to even think about doing this. Which I guess means it’s a good ntkog. But I’m going to go ahead and post a poem here. An honest-to-god “wrote it ’cause i meant it” poem about truth and feelings and all that horrible stuff the thought of which makes me anxious and violent-sarcastic.

Oh god please don’t judge me. This intense cold has made me emotionally vulnerable. (And obviously I don’t think the poem is good or else I’d be trying to get it published instead of wordpressing it. And — and caveat caveat caveat until we all die, but seriously, I’m a prose writer, not a poet by any means.)

The Poem (oh guys please don’t hate me):

Prosaic

I hack out slickly viscous thoughts,
distortive phrases where your body
can firm its curves, reslope its drops.
With words I sculpt you as you’re not – we
could never intersect in life:
I’d dog you like a faithful wife,
I’d buff your jags, soon sanitize
your lurk, your dank seraphic guise.
I fear that soon I’d start to see
your blunt-nosed apprehensions seething,
the burden of your constant breathing;
No charm in your asymmetry.
And yet I cherish thoughts that we
might have been gratefully unhappy.

The Verdict: So obviously no word back on the publication status, although you’ll know when I know. Personally, I’m hoping to acquire enough rejection letters this year to wallpaper my apartment. But it did feel amazing to actually send something out. It’s so easy, I think, to get entranced with work you’ve already completed and let it acquire a totemic stature in your drawer. You convince yourself it’s beautiful and perfect and you’ll never write anything half so good again, so why squander your store of genius by sharing it with the world just yet?

Which is why I chose to start out by sending my poems out there. Because I already know they’re terrible at best, and the rejection isn’t going to kill me. Still. I felt good enough about sending work out that I’m going to drag a few stories out of the drawer and submit them to read, actual, prestigious journals. By six months from now, I have decided, I’m going to be published. There is no other option.

Also, sharing an actual poem with you guys is by far the NTKOG-iest thing I’ve done so far for this blog and my stomach is already tied up in knots and I’m probably going to go drink some wine just to calm my DELICATE WRITERLY NERVES so please do not compare me unfavorably to Shel Silverstein or anything in the comments section. (God, I’m usually so oppressively confident. Turns out I found the nerve center for my otherwise hidden insecurities.)

[Edit: haHA! First rejection already! Not even a very nice or grammatical one! Excellent. Must stop by Kinko’s to print it out for the WALL OF REJECTION.]

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