5.29.2007

Good News, Again

I said not all that long ago that I've never had three good pieces of writing news in the span of a term--ten weeks or so.

Today, I received my fourth.

I'm feeling, though, I don't know, kind of nervous about putting it up here. In fact, I considered not posting about it at all.

The reason for my reluctance, I think, is mostly due to the fact I've been receiving so much good news lately, and I've thus been posting quite a few entries that say, "Hey, look what cool stuff is happening to me."

I suppose that's an accurate representation of what's been going on in my writing life. It's not, however, an accurate representation of the failures in between successes. I almost never mention rejections on this blog because, well, I don't think it's possible not to sound whiny when mentioning rejections.

I'll make as a general statement instead: I spent almost all of last year (the year, in fact, prior to my starting this blog) in a real funk as far as writing was concerned. It was my first year post-grad school, and while I loved teaching, loved living here in Galesburg, close to various friends and family members, my writing life sucked. I wasn't writing much, and the stories I'd spent the previous year rewriting for my thesis were getting rejected on a very regular basis. Sometimes these rejections included nice little notes; other times they were your standard form rejections, printed on little cards. Those form rejections, which I'd been desensitized to for a while, really started to bother me. It's strange for me to admit this (my friend Ben always says, "You've got to steel yourself against rejection.") but it's true. I'd get annoyed. And then I'd dread the next day's mail delivery.

Then, last summer, I started this blog and I started taking long walks at night. The blog, well, it's been what it's been--some kind of record of what I've been up to: what I've been reading, writing, or teaching, watching on TV, finding online, or, occasionally, what my nieces and nephews have been up to. I've enjoyed keeping it up, and the people who occasionally stop by and leave a comment or send me me an email. The long walks I took last summer, though, did even more, I think, to help get me out of my funk. They were a kind of meditative practice for me. At times, all I did, for the entire hour-and-a-half walk, was repeat in my head, "Let go." I suppose I could have been referencing any number of things, but what I was mostly talking about was the whole business side of writing--submitting things for publication, receiving rejections, worrying about what I was going to do next.

And eventually, I started to let go. I stopped, for the most part, rushing to check the mailbox or my email each day. I stopped over-analyzing rejections and worrying about what my more "successful" writer friends had been up to. And instead, I started writing things, and thinking about those things. And once those things got to a point where I didn't think they'd get any better, I would submit them to a magazine or two and then not think much else about it. This may seem improbable, but it's true. I have files on my computer that detail when I sent stuff out and where it went, but I stopped looking at them on a daily basis. I let it all go.

So, I still receive a pretty fair number of rejections every now and then, but lately, honestly, it's been way more good news than bad. And maybe that's helped me maintain this letting go, who knows?

At any rate, back to the good news. Prior to the beginning of this term I had stories accepted at Blue Earth Review, Duck & Herring Co. Pocket Field Guide, 5_Trope, and Red Wheelbarrow. This term, I've had stories accepted at The Sun and The Rambler. Also, I learned I'm going to be a Tennessee Williams Scholar in fiction at this summer's Sewanee Writers' Conference. And now, piece of good writing news number four: I've learned I'm going to be attending the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference on a work-study ("waiter") scholarship.

While this was the first time I applied to Sewanee, this was my third attempt at securing a waiter scholarship at Bread Loaf. The first time, I received a pretty standard rejection. Last year, at the tail end of my "crappy" writing year, I learned I was a finalist but didn't make the cut. This year, though, I did, and, man, am I thrilled.

But just so you know, if I'd read about me last year, during my funk, I would have hated my guts. As is, it's not so bad at all. I'm just hoping I don't die between now and September.

7 comments:

Ben said...

Well deserved, Chad. Applause! High-fives! It's Miller Time! This is the summer of Simpson.

Donna said...

I'm with Ben: The summer of Simpson! All very cool news, Chad! And I like the story of your long walks.

caroline said...

I keep trying to think of a clever way to tell you that I like your blog, but I can't seem to think of one. So I guess I'll just say that I like your blog. I'm glad you started it.

I'm dating a poetry/fiction writing grad student right now, so any glimpse into a writer's inner workings is incredibly interesting to me.

Lisa said...

Another wonderful piece of news! So thrilled for you. I just had a feeling that the next time I checked your blog, you were going to be reporting that something else exciting had happened to your writer self. Wow, two big things this summer to hopefully lift you up and keep hope alive. A thousand congratulations!

Avery said...

You rock, Chad. And you know, if you put yourself in the right kind of awkward position there at Bread Loaf, you just might have another short story idea! Keep the good news coming!

Chad Simpson said...

Thanks, Ben. I'm going all high-brow tonight: Anchor Brewing Co.'s Liberty Ale. I would never diss the domestics, but this stuff is pretty good.

Thanks, Donna. When I hear "summer of Simpson" it connotes rather poorly, though. I won't tell you what I envision.

I like having you stop by, Caroline. I'm not so sure about that whole "dating an MFAer," though. Hopefully the blog doesn't prompt any negative feelings from you toward the guy.

I didn't know you were clairvoyant, Lisa. Weird. What am I thinking? Tell me! What am I thinking? Just kidding, of course. Thanks, Lisa.

And thanks to you too, Steph. Even imagining having to avoid a month of awkward situations has me pretty nervous. Maybe if I keep in mind that I can mine it all for stories it'll make it easier.

caroline said...

Negative feelings? No. We've been together for a while, and I love being able to see how he works through stories/poems. I like seeing that here too. I'm just a curious cat.