Announcing to the world at large that one is a writer is, or can be, a source of tension. A recent article in a magazine devoted to writers advised one to simply shout it out, as it were. I think that is good advice. One should be proud of one’s chosen path.
I have to admit I haven’t been so forthright. I never say to anyone that I’m a writer. Usually I tell folks I’m retired. It’s easier. In many cases, the next question I receive is “What do you do with your time?” It’s a tricky question. It’s a question I get from other retirees as much as the wage earners out there who stare at me with no small amount of jealousy or wonder or annoyance.
My response to the issue of WHAT DO I DO WITH MY FREE TIME is a multi-layered one. I tell the person or persons that I read a good bit—that always impresses people—that I do some wood working, and of course there’s yard work—by this time everyone is nodding their heads and agreeing. Then I say, “I’m trying too to get some writing done.”
There’s never any response to that last remark. And that’s fine with me as well.
I could explain if pressed that I started writing years and years ago, but didn’t publish. I read stories at readings in coffee houses and at academic conferences where creative writing was allowed, but no I hadn’t published…well in a few minor university publications, but they really didn’t count.
I finally had a story published in a major literary magazine, The Sun Magazine, in June, 2013.
I trumpeted that fact to the world. Friends and family were all excited and happy for me. I could at last say “I am a writer.”
I did declare that I was a writer—to my wife, who, I must say, has always been supportive. She made it a point to display the June, 2013 issue of The Sun upon its own little wooden stand that stood on a small table in the study where anyone passing by might see it. After a while, it fell off the table and lay flat on the floor. Eventually it was squashed beneath some books and an old t-shirt I had bought in Japan. Then the books went back on the shelf, and the t-shirt got washed, and the stand went elsewhere. The magazine lay flat on the small table. The stand returned and sat on top of the magazine. Finally the magazine just disappeared. To this day I don’t know where it is.
The problem, I realized, isn’t getting published the first time. The real problem is getting published the second time! Yes, I had proven myself. I had gotten a story published. I had shown the world that I could do it. But once one publishes, one must do it again…and again…and again. I had one publication to my name. I was piling up rejections.
Rejection after rejection.
One keeps going. There is hope. I did get an email from an editor who after rejecting my story, stated that they were interested in my work and would I send another story when their submission period kicked in later this year. I showed the email to my wife. We were both very happy. We toasted our wine glasses that night.
I’m a writer.