I have finally finished responding to all the poetry submissions from the October submission period of Uncanny. It took longer than I’d imagined. Since this was my first round as poetry editor, I had intended to read every submission myself (I did), but I hadn’t imagined just how many submissions a magazine like Uncanny receives in each submission period (400+, as it turned out), or how long it takes to read all of them.
Both ends of a set of submissions can be time-consuming for different reasons. On one hand, there are submissions that are so odd that you can’t merely hit the reject button — you stare and marvel at the henceforth unacquainted dimensions of the human mind. On the other, by the time you have narrowed down to a second tier of submissions, nearly every poem is strong, vibrant, important, deserving of publication space. I had spent many years of my early youth trying to learn to critique poetry, then shelved away that training in an unused section of my brain, since I moved on to editing and writing fiction. Never before has that training been so strongly called into application. It was exhilarating.
I have been trying to return to writing poetry myself, but moving back into that home is a slower process. Going back home is never the same as never leaving, anyway.
I have not gone back to my physical home in a long time. It occurs to me that 2017 is the first year I will have spent entirely away from home. It’s a year of no passport stamps. A first, ever since I acquired the passport.
I am waiting for many things, but solstice, and longer days, will be the easiest achieved and welcome. For the new year, I wish for more quietude of the heart, music, stories, writing, hope.
I recently became a fellow for the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program conducted by the New York Foundation for the Arts, where I am paired with the Iranian writer Poupeh Missaghi as my mentor for the next four months. This was the first non-science-fiction-related break I have had in this country, although Poupeh also wants to look at my magical realism writing, so that’s pretty cool.
This went up on the website of Twelfth Planet Press a while ago, but I also wanted to put it up on my blog, because this has been a truly great set of works to edit, by writers who are friends, writers I didn’t know personally but admired, as well as writers who were complete strangers. No better opportunity than this to put their names on my blog.
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler
Edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal
ISBN: 978-1-922101-42-6 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-922101-43-3 (ebk) To be published in August 2017
Do you regularly Google yourselves? I still find it awkward to do that, so the only times I end up doing it is on the occasional end-of-the-night/early-morning when I can’t fall asleep but am too tired to do something else more fun. (This doesn’t happen often. There are always more Buzzfeed quizzes to do, which is always more fun than Googling myself.) And that’s how I found out that there was a little one-paragraph review of my Harry Potter essay on File 770 back in December.
This is cool, because File 770 is cool. This also feels more reasonable than the five or so comments that the article got on the original site, all at different points of the scale between splaining and trolling. Online abuse still manages to make me flinch, probably because I haven’t often “put myself out there” in the truest sense of the term, even though I have existed on the Internet for more than a decade. (I existed in networks and communities that were accountable, and in which online identities often led to real-life people.) In the public sense, I am not easily trolled, partly because I absolutely disappear from the site of trollage, refusing to engage. But in the private sense, I also end up wasting an unnecessary amount of time wondering about the kind of human beings who spend most of their life saying unpleasant things to people on the Internet, and what evolutionary turn has brought us to this.
Anyway, here’s a screenshot of the File 770 review, because I would like to keep a record:
I hope I am not beginning to seem like the obnoxious celebrity who retweets every praise, which is apparently a stereotype, someone pointed out to me recently. This may be helped by the fact that I’m not, in fact, a celebrity. That essay was my only non-fiction publication last year, and this probably my only review. That’s totally okay to feel great about.
The Clarion West 2016 workshop is ending today as I write (in one of the westernmost time zones of the world, so there are a few hours), two days before it had ended last year, and there’s the end of the Write-a-thon.
I feel a little disappointed in myself.
The imposter syndrome is strong in me. I often write very little, and panic that maybe I’ve run out of imagination; and when I do write a lot, I convince myself that the quality of something written in such bulk can possibly not be very high.
I did write a lot in these 1.5 months. I didn’t write 40k words, like I declared on my Write-a-thon page, but I never actually believed I’d write 40k words – that was just to aim as high as I could, so that I got somewhere in the middle. I think I wrote about 25–30k words, and some of them are never going to be published, but that’s not a bad word count. That’s definitely a higher word count than what I’d churned out at the actual workshop last year.
I wrote through days of depression and frequent panic attacks, through a barely trickling Internet connection, and an MS Office crash between Week 4 and Week 5.
Except that I keep thinking I could do better.
Anyway, now I should put up an update for the last two weeks, because sometimes listing out the things you’ve done reminds you that you’ve done enough:
Week 5 (July 16–22):
My essay on Indian fantasy fiction from Week 1 got published in Scroll.in! This should actually be a Week 4 update, but I didn’t notice the publication until later. The title of the essay isn’t mine (obviously!), and also obviously you don’t see 2,582 words there, since Scroll.in decided to publish only a section of the original essay. I will probably publish all of it somewhere else – or on this blog – after the Write-a-thon is done.
My (older) short story “The Sea Sings at Night” got reprinted in Digital Fiction Pub!Once again, should be a Week 4 update – both of these were published on the same day, in fact – but once again, I didn’t notice until later. This had a remarkably quick turnaround. I think I’d made the submission during the Write-a-thon period itself, although it’s 3.19 a.m. and I’m half-asleep and all these words are too generic and I can’t find the email confirmation for submission now.
Received EXTREMELY POSITIVE response from the editor of TBA2 publication about the 842-word first part of Essay 3 (this being an essay on Harry Potter), which I had submitted in Week 4.
Proceeded to write complete first draft of the Harry Potter essay, currently at around 4,000 words.
Received one more approval from TBA2 publication about said first draft, which I didn’t read until this week, because my Internet connection started being problematic.
Week 6 (July 23–29):
[Ugh, it’s very late, so I’ll finish this post tomorrow. Or something. Just want to publish it already, this being the last day of the Write-a-thon, and all.]