On Tuesday I woke at 5am, excited to head to the airport for a three-day Paris trip to visit my sister. For weeks I had been in discussions with an editor at Meanjin, trying to walk the line between what I felt was essential to a story they had accepted, and trying not to be the writer who, despite little experience, refuses to accept changes suggested with only good intentions. After a few disappointing and nerve-wracking days, I woke at that ungodly hour on Tuesday to a link in my email account, and the news that my story was live.
LIVE! The little creature I’d been growing in a secret test tube, which had gone from icky mucus-covered alien to something shiny. I loved it, even the last minute changes which no one but me and the editor would probably even notice. It is a story about grief, but really about the difficulties in caring for others when we refuse to acknowledge our own pain. I immediately sent it on to those closest to me, and basked in the lovely and loving return comments.
It’s tempting to be pessimistic at this point, to think that this might be all there ever is. I’m increasingly aware that my writing can seem simplistic, even though I swear there are layers there like a secret onion. My favourite writers are those who write simply, so this isn’t a bad realisation, but there is a division between writers who think simple is strength, and those who prefer a thick, soupy kind of writing. I will never write a stew, I know this now, and that’s okay because I probably wouldn’t want to read it if I did. All I can do is try to convince people that simple writing isn’t actually simple.
And now, I have returned to submitting. My 100 submission challenge is on target. I’ve had 13 rejections, and have 19 other submissions out there, floating around. I have started the year aiming for the most prestigious publications, and am therefore expecting a high number of rejections. The second half of the year, I’m hoping, will be kinder. But this little bit of glitter from Meanjin will see me through these potential 19 rejections, and spur me on to finish the challenge. After all, if it’s the only publication this year, it’s a pretty good one.