Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Every copy accounted for! The rest? Not so much!

I run my writing business like I run my household: haphazardly. I keep meticulous records of how many books I’ve sold, but a very slapdash record of my speaking gigs. As a result, I do not remember what (or if) I was paid for my appearances (a tad embarrassing when booking a second speech. “Excuse me, what DID you give me last time? Because whatever it is, that’s fine.”)

But I am making progress! Exactly one year ago, I started an Excel spreadsheet to track essays submitted and accepted/declined. Today I counted everything up. Since June 28, 2017, I have sent essays or pitches to 51 publications. It has been my habit to dwell on the rejections--or, maybe worse, the radio silence, which always gives me false hope that, many months after submission, I will suddenly hear from The Washington Post On Parenting: “Hi! Oops! We found your fabulously touching yet hilarious piece in our spam folder! It will be featured tomorrow, and your sizable check is in the mail!!!” But, doing the math, my record is not half-bad. I have gotten 21 acceptances, with five still pending. This beats the usual rule of thumb acceptance rate for cold calls/sales pitches, which I think is around 5%.

Much as I would love to have all of my darlings green-lit, I recognize that my writing is not irresistible. One of my problems is often neglecting to read enough back issues of pubs, which is Freelance Writing Rule #1. I recently sent a humor essay to a decidedly non-funny magazine, and lo and behold! They declined my comic masterpiece! Another problem is my fear of disappointing someone who wants me to write a second draft of something—so I totally disappoint him or her by not doing it at all. I have been going back and forth with the editor of an online publication about an essay dealing with my mental illness. He nixed the first pass, but said it had a lot of promise and encouraged me to re-work and resend. I haven’t yet responded, because I am so afraid he will reject my essay in a revised form. Far better, I rationalize, to cut ties with someone who is genuinely interested in my work! Back to sending knee-slappers to Mortician’s Monthly!

This week and next (VBS followed immediately by our high school mission trip), I probably won’t write anything more profound than a shopping list. But as of mid-July, I will be at the Delaware shore, and there will be time. Time to write a lot, and, hopefully, submit said writing. Hopefully the old Excel spreadsheet will soon feature the names of many other publications contacted and (even more hopefully) articles sold.

Lewes lighthouse at sunset--who wouldn't be inspired here?

 For now, I will try to celebrate my successes, and adjust my attitude about the rest. It is never too late to improve, both as a writer and as a submitter.

And there’s a chance that Chicken Soup for the Soul just lost my email address. Right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Got Your Back

Today's choice! Will add backs!

I’m not a big jewelry wearer, but I do love my pierced earrings. There is a small china tray on my dresser holding favorite pairs, and many more reside in a jewelry box. I have little gold earrings with my zodiac sign on them that I have had since my ears were first pierced as a young teen. My most recent pair I was given on Sunday by Julie, who bought them in Tel Aviv. Hammered silver, jade, Chinese coins, drop earrings, hoop earrings and pearl studs: my earring collection evokes memories of the places I’ve traveled, the wonderful people who have gifted me with them.

So losing several individual earrings within the past few months has been deeply distressing. In every case, the fault was my own—I neglected to attach a metal or plastic back to the earring, and it slipped off at some point in my day. The most recent casualty was one of my typewriter key earrings (letter E). I’ve had these for eons and they are true favorites. They’ve been sort of “good vibe” charm—I’ve worn them on Thursdays, my day off and my dedicated writing day. It’s goofy, but wearing them I have felt writerly and productive.  And now, one of them is gone. I have held out hope of recovery (under a chair? In the car?) but as the days pass with no sighting, that hope is dimming.

All by its lonesome

I’m just really annoyed with myself for not safeguarding my accessories better. It takes five seconds to secure the earring back—so why am I neglecting to do that? Am I that lazy, that the act of putting on a vital part of my jewelry selection is one exertion too many? I don’t want to read too much into this, but is it symptomatic of a deeper problem? I am restraining myself from Googling “early onset Alzheimer’s.” What if searching the Shop N Bag parking lot for a lost bauble is the gateway to putting my shoes in the refrigerator and the tomatoes in the washing machine?

After my initial panic and sorrow over these earbob losses, I always end up consoling myself: it’s just stuff, stuff I can most likely re-buy if I want to badly enough. In the present case, I am pretty sure that there is another pair of “E” typewriter key earrings in the universe. And if I purchase them, I will have three! A pair and a spare!

Meanwhile, tomorrow is Thursday, and I will be sitting down at the computer without wearing my magic inspirational earrings. Will I attempt an essay, only to produce pages of gibberish? Should I skip writing entirely until my earlobes are appropriately attired again?

No! I will wear a different set of earrings and I will STILL be able to compose something decent! I will overcome my silly hang-up and forge ahead!

But, dear whichever-earrings-I-select for Thursdays (and every day), I promise you, from now on: I’ve got your backs.