Last May I read a call for submissions, from an online author’s Facebook group I had recently joined. They said it was for an anthology they were thinking of putting together, for charity, and that people didn’t need to be experienced or professional writers to join in. Sounded like an excellent cause: literacy for children was the thought at the time. I could think of no better cause than that.
I was new to this, thinking this would be the perfect way to get my feet wet, so-to-speak. I felt welcomed with open arms. I thought it could be the perfect opportunity to send a short story in and I started working through some ideas in my head immediately.
As summer progressed the idea took shape in even clearer ways. The storyline grew out of some things I had recently experienced in my own life, but I was attempting to deal with those real-life issues and feelings through the magic of fiction.
I write a lot and I mostly have written memoir over time. A lot of authors say writing memoir makes them feel naked and exposed, but I find fiction does that more for me than anything I’ve ever written about myself outright.
Now that it is mid-January I am trying to stick to really the only sort-of resolution I’ve made since 2015 began a few short weeks ago. I am trying to not feel envious or jealous of what others have and to find the good in my own life, where I currently stand and to not feel angry at what I see that others may have or be doing without me. Then something happened to me last week that left me feeling angry and wounded.
I know. I know. That didn’t take very long at all, did it?
I actually did it. I have very little to show for any sort of fictional writing, but I wrote a short piece to submit to this charity anthology. Other than the half-way attempt at a novel from 2013s National Novel Writing Month and a few short stories I’ve written on my blog, I have very little to show for the years I let pass me by, but I hoped to start on the road to changing all that.
Unfortunately, things did not work out like I hoped they would. First of all, I found it difficult to communicate with the group of writers who were publishing this anthology, especially over the holidays. This is totally understandable. People are busy and days are hectic and harried.
So then when the new year came and went I had sent several emails, gotten help to make sure I’d sent my story in a format easily edited, but I hadn’t heard back that my story had been edited at all. I still assumed, having kept in some contact over the private Facebook group about this anthology, that everything would work out somehow. I guess I was being naive.
I received an online contract from one of the authors in charge and I sent it back, all filled out. I wasn’t making any money from this. I didn’t want any. I only wanted to be included in something with a group of other writers, just a way to get my work out there amongst others, for the experience of joining something alone. The contract wasn’t perfect, but it promised my story would be one amongst the others in the anthology and that I would receive one e-copy for myself.
Someone else, with much more experience than myself, they would be handling everything else. I only had to write the story and they would see that it got published with the others in the group, on the online ebook selling sites such as Amazon. I knew, from others who had recently done it, that the formatting and publishing of an ebook on Amazon is difficult and confusing. I was glad to have my story included and this first time I didn’t have the stress of trying to figure all that other stuff out.
There was to be a big online release party on the weekend and as far as I knew, I would be a part of it, but I wanted to be sure, before I went and told friends and family.
I thought I was getting a short piece of my writing published on a site last spring and I couldn’t help telling people about it; I was so excited. When that did not materialize, I felt let down and disappointed. It had been my fault though. I was the one to jump the gun and rush into speaking about it, before I had any real confirmation, but I figured I would get another chance.
Well this wouldn’t be it.
I decided I needed to confirm so I came right out and asked and was informed that my story was lost, never received, and that they were sorry to tell me I would not be included in the anthology. The timing had never been right and I felt like there was enough blame to go around, me included, but I felt the sting of rejection and mistreatment nonetheless.
This story was a short story I wrote about the roller coaster, the ups and downs, all that love can throw at you and how to move on and turn a new page. Even the title of the anthology seemed to be perfectly fitting and meant to be. That is what it was called and what it was about.
Why should I be upset? This was just some online thing with people I have never met in person. Why did it hurt so much when I heard for certain that I was not a part of it?
I was mad and hurt, in equal measure. I felt toyed with, like a lot of drama and unprofessionalism had gone on behind the scenes somewhere and through no fault of my own. I did not fully understand what had happened and I never will. I had worked hard on my story and had written it about a particularly difficult period of my life, hoping too that the publishing of this story would mean a new page, a fresh start, a blank slate and next chapter in my own life, personally and maybe even a step forward with my writing.
I felt like I had been messed with and treated carelessly. I wanted to complain and whine and vent my frustrations on Facebook, to all who would listen, even those who were celebrating their stories all being published in the anthology that weekend. I got upset all over again when I accidentally heard notifications and statuses about the anthology’s release.
I have sat with these emotions ever since and have tried telling myself I am better off. I know it wasn’t meant to be and I will have future opportunities still to come. I know the important thing is that I wrote it and nobody can take that away from me.
Then negative thoughts entered my mind. The suspicious part of my brain feared that someone somewhere still actually has my story and that they could possibly take it and publish it as their own. I know this isn’t likely. I know the authors involved are still people I have never met in person and that I didn’t really know any of them. They don’t owe me anything and I don’t either.
Even online I feel it, it can be petty. I have realized there can be and there are groups like in real life, like in high school and beyond. I suppose what I wanted was to be a part of something, to feel my writing was receiving some sort of attention and recognition from others. I had to let go of any anger, realizing that I had written something that meant a lot to me. That hadn’t changed.
I believe in taking the good and the positive from any situation and learning and growing from it. I have felt a bit lost and adrift lately and since the start of 2015 even more so.
I have found a lot of interesting blogs and bloggers, writers and authors, but online is still a mystery to me, a place where circles of people hang out. I see it all the time. I wonder how these circles form and how they keep going. I see it because I have a blog. I can’t avoid it, but it is important to remember that there is a big bad world not to be missed outside my own door. Sometimes it’s just easier to hide out where I have been, but I know I will move forward and on to experience new places and new people, perhaps even over the coming year.
So much bad stuff in the news and these latest above experiences notwithstanding…I woke this week to a truly wonderful thing going on online, mostly through social media and blogging. I wrote about it the other day. If you missed it or are a blogger who might be interested, check it out here:
It’s hard for me to understand why people do what they do. A lot of it, although often called selfless or good deedish, still comes off feeling disingenuous and unauthentic. I wonder if anyone ever does anything without expecting something for themselves, deep down. Even the best people with the best intentions, it seems to me, are ultimately hoping to get something out of it.
This isn’t a bad thing; however, I have a hard time with it. Perhaps that is why, online or off, I am not making a lot of money, certainly not of my own. I can’t feel like I am selling myself. I feel dirty and uncomfortable, like I am not being true to who I am. It doesn’t seem to sit well with me.
I know writing is most often an attention-seeking endeavour. It screams, if you choose to share it, “LOOK AT ME!” and I do play a part in this dance.
I guess I just haven’t found a way to use my blog to sell something to people or to sell myself as a product. I have developed a brand for myself: the Her Headache of this blog and the Insightful Wanderer more recently still, but I can’t quite seem to fit comfortably snug in either role, not entirely anyway.
Sounds fickle, I know.
Finally, I just wanted to share the following link, an interview below with a writer and blogger I’ve followed for some time now. She is a Canadian, a mother and wife, and a writer. I have been attempting to focus in on a selection of Canadian literature and writers when I can find it. This interview is the purest explanation of what being a writer means, why it’s important, and how life feels without that outlet. I couldn’t agree more with Carrie Snyder and her thoughts:
I want things too. I want, ultimately, to be recognized for the thing I love and for which makes me whole. I want to be able to support myself through this thing.
Is that possible or a far-away pipe dream?
It isn’t easy. In the end I will need to let go of the relative security of the online world and hopefully show what I can do to real people, people I can speak in person with, who I can look directly in the face. I declare here that I will find a way to do this. I have taken steps and I will take more of them. I will not let myself grow bitter and disillusioned. I just won’t!