Just thought I’d drop a line for anyone still visiting the old site. If you’re wondering why you stopped getting post notifications, I’m over at http://www.bekkiwrites.com.
February is starting to feel like a lost month.
It started off with such promise. February is letter month, of course, and it was going to be the month that I finished my application to a writing workshop that’s taking place this summer. I had thoughts that I might try and write a story to submit to Glitter and Mayhem. Not to mention getting a renter in upstairs and starting work on the basement.
Thus far, the only thing I’ve managed to do is log a ridiculous number of hours at work. I’m going to get the application finished. Partly because it has a hard deadline of March 1. Mostly because dreams take a certain amount of chasing before they can come true.
As for the rest of it, I’m pretty much operating in triage mode. So if you don’t see me blogging or on Twitter, if you’re waiting for a letter that hasn’t arrived yet… That’s where I am. Hunkered down, waiting for the storm to blow over and the sun to come out.
The thing I love about February – more than the fact that days are growing a little longer, and the air seems a little warmer, and Spring seems to be just around the corner – is that it’s Letter Month.*
I had a splendid time with this last year, reconnecting with all sorts of people I’d fallen out of touch with (or wasn’t as in touch with as I wanted to be). Including the friend I’d written all those magical letters to one summer.
So, even though I’ve got work and writing and life things pulling me in about five different directions right now, I’m going to do this. I bought really cute note cards (you’re going to love them) and fairly cute stamps (I was bummed the Poets set was sold out).
Here’s the interactive part. If you want a letter, email me, or connect with me on Twitter @bekkiwrites, or, if you want to be really mysterious and anonymous, put your address into my Postable address book.
And if you want to drop me a line or two, that would be most delightful.
* Yes, that link is a year old. Rest assured, though, #lettermo is alive and well on the Twitter.
Yesterday, Amanda Palmer posted an amazing blog on internet hatred and bullying. You should go read it. Spend some time in the comments. It will probably break your heart. It broke mine.
When I was a kid, I was drawn to the kids who were different. The ones who were fragile and fantastical and generally quite fucked up. I didn’t hang out with the cool kids, partly because there was never money for whatever the latest craze in toys was – slap bracelets, troll dolls, sticker collecting – but mostly because the cool kids were boring. My friends were never boring, but the flipside was that they would turn on me in an instant. I had frenemies long before the term was popular. Girls who loved me one day and said vicious things about me the next. Or kicked me as we went down the stairs to recess, so that one year my shins were black and blue from September to June. Or poured chocolate milk all over me during lunch. Or took the confidences I had whispered during sleepovers and spread them among all the other girls to get a leg up the popularity ladder.
Seventh grade was the worst. It was the year of the bar mitzvah’s. I grew up in a mostly Jewish town, went to a mostly Jewish school. There was a bar mitzvah almost every weekend, sometimes two. The rich kids had their parties at the country club, where there would be a magician or face-painter or a DJ, or sometimes all three. The popular girls collected photo albums of invitations. Even the unpopular girls like me got invited to their share – someone who invited all of their homeroom, or all of their Hebrew school class, or whose parents made them invite the kids who’d been in carpool.
I don’t remember which one of them thought up the game. I don’t even know why it was so funny to them, or so hurtful to me. It went like this. I would be sitting alone, staring at all the kids out on the dance floor and wishing someone would come over to talk to me. A group of the popular boys would be hanging out at the other end of the table, whispering with each other. Suddenly, one of them would run over to me, get down on one knee, and ask, “Will you marry me?” I would sit there in shock and confusion, without a clue as to how to send him away so that I came off as the cool one. Then, laughing hysterically, he would run back to his friends and they would all exchange high-fives. I was convinced, utterly and absolutely, that what they were really telling me was that I was hideous, and ugly, and that nobody would ever, ever want to marry me.
By the time we hit high school, it was mostly over. I hung out with the freaks, took the honors and AP classes, played lacrosse, dated a guy who thought I was gorgeous, and pretty much tried to ignore everyone who had caused me so much misery a few years back. It worked so well that by the time senior year came around, I was a certain kind of cool. At senior prom, one of the hottest guys in my class told my boyfriend he’d never realized how hot I was. The popular boys wanted to pose for pictures with me on the last day of school. I told them all to fuck off.
Which should be the end of it, except for one last thing.
About five years ago, one of the boys who’d played the marriage game found me on Facebook and sent a friend request. I’ll admit, my response was not as graceful as it could have been.
I never wrote back, because I didn’t know what to say. In truth, he wasn’t even the worst of them. In high school, he was actually pretty friendly to me. I still hated him, even more than I hated the ones who had bullied me for so long. The way I saw it, they were idiots. They couldn’t help themselves. He was smarter, more popular, better than all of that. He could have stopped them, if he’d wanted to. He never did.
So. To all those kids who made my life a living hell. To the kids who lived through it from the other end. To the ones who bullied, and were bullied, and watched the bullies and did nothing. If you want to talk, I’m here. I’m listening. Hit me up in the comments.
And to all those kids who are going home after school and crying, and cutting, and wishing they could die:
Good morning kittens, and welcome to 2013. Here is my New Year’s wish for you:
Hold on to the people that you love, and love the people you can’t hold onto. So often the things we take for granted are the ones we will miss the most when they’re gone. Take time to cry if you need it, and time to laugh as well. Do something kind for a complete stranger. Do something kind for yourself. Cherish the small things – the first shoots of green in the spring, an unexpected smile, a sentence that leave you awestruck and trembling.
And above all, shine.
I’ve been slowly coming to the inevitable conclusion that I’m going to have to revise Pomegranate Seeds (again!) if I want it to sell.
Here are the cold, hard stats:
- 8 form rejections
- 1 closed query (no response after a follow up email and 5 months)
- 1 rejection with feedback that opening was too quiet
- 2 contests “wins” with ultimate rejections (one cited voice; the other said it was a little “flat”)
- 1 request for a full with a pass (too many fairy tale retellings on the market)
- 1 open request for a full
- 2 open queries
- 1 pending contest (PitchWars)
Counting the PitchWars agents who haven’t seen this yet, that’s about 20 agents. Now, we’ve all heard the stories about writers who went through numerous rejections before hearing yes on the 21st, or 51st, or 99th query. We’ve also heard the stories about writers who self published after being rejected by the publishing world and went on to sell over a million copies on Amazon.
This isn’t that book.
Kids, when I wrote this, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I’d written a handful of short stories in college, and a NaNo project the previous year (it’s since been locked in a drawer for its own protection). Now that I’ve finished a draft of a novel that was plotted and outlined and beat-sheeted (hat tip to Authoress), I understand so much more about how a novel works. Enough to know that while Pomegranate Seeds isn’t irreparably broken, it could definitely use an overhaul.
All of which is leading me to the point where I need to make a pretty difficult decision. Do I put Pomegranate Seeds back in the drawer? Or do I take a deep breath, get out my notebook and pen, and begin to quietly murder my darling?
Once upon a time, there was a boy who built a snowman. And in the dead of night, while all the world was sleeping, the snowman came to life and took the boy for a marvelous adventure.
I stayed out much, much past my bedtime last night, at a housewarming party in Brooklyn that was exactly what I thought adult parties should be like when I was a child: candles burning, mulled wine on the stove, and a group of people clustered around a piano, singing.
If I were writing this in a story, I would pull you into the scene, make you see his fingers flying across the keys, playing Liszt so fast his knuckles and fingertips blurred. You would know that the room was warm, almost too warm, windows fogged from all the bodies in motion. You would smell the cloves and cinnamon and orange peels from the wine simmering in the kitchen. At the end of the party, you, too, would feel a faint regret that the night was winding down, that the magic was beginning to ebb.
If this were a story, you would leave with some handsome young thing you’d found there, still singing to each other as you walked reluctantly toward the L train and the city and the apartment you live in alone. You might even stop somewhere along the way and kiss, and because this is fiction you will be standing under the streetlight in exactly the spot where the raindrops misting down look like falling stars.
The real world is somewhat more prosaic than the fictional world though, and though I walked out of the party with a handsome young thing, I left him somewhere around Grand Central, setting off in pursuit of a young thing of his own. I did, however, walk under a series of streetlights on my way from the subway to the apartment, and the raindrops falling through that glow of light looked exactly like falling stars.
My husband and I have been married just shy of a year and a half. Before that, we dated for for years. Before that, we were coworkers and friends. I am still learning how to communicate with him.
For me, this is the most challenging, maddening part of marriage. How is it that this man who I have known for so long, who is the other half of my soul, doesn’t instantly understand what I mean? How is it that I, writer, poet, mistress of all things written, cannot make myself understood?
We fit together so perfectly that I forget, all too often, what different worlds we come from: I from a family of bookworms and PBS programming; he from the world of pop culture and fast cars. I spend my days crafting arguments; he spends his crafting meals. I speak quickly, in half formed thoughts. He deliberates, settling on his words with care before saying them out loud.
When we argue, our words fly by each other, meaningless as babble without our own frames of reference.
This too, I am learning: you can choose not to fight. To say, I am too tired, too hungry, too stressed to have this conversation. And you can say, yes, ok, we can talk about it later.
It is these small things, I think, on which the marriage is built.
In case you’ve wondered where I’ve been for the past few months, the answer is that life has simply been chaos. A and I are in the process of buying a house, which has got to be both the most terrifying and the most bewildering thing we have ever done. So far, the process has contained a great number of “two steps forward, one step back” moments. The broker and the lawyer don’t seem to think there’s anything extraordinary about the lack of progress.
Meanwhile, because our lease ended at the end of September, A and I have been moving from sublet to sublet. We spent October in Ridgewood, which is this cute little neighborhood on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. By the time I’d finally figured out how to direct taxi drivers to the place, the hurricane hit and the midtown tunnel closed. By the time I figured out the directions for going over the Queensboro bridge, it was time to move.
We’re now up in Harlem, in a ground level apartment that A has taken to calling the “Love Palace” because the living room has five couches and pictures of naked people on the walls. It’s steam heated, which means that when the heat is on, it is ON, at which point we call the apartment the “Love Jungle.”
No idea where we’ll be next month.
In other news, we’re planning to head back to the Bay for part of January. Because nothing says “tropical vacation” like San Francisco in the rainy season.
A few months ago, Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote a great article titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” If you haven’t read it yet, you should. Go ahead. I’ll still be here when you’re done.
My reaction to the article was somewhere in between “of course” and “there’s no way that kind of systemic change will ever happen.” Then I went on with my life.
I’m one of those women who has been told, from Day One, that I can have anything I want as long as I’m willing to work hard enough for it. So I did. Husband? Check. Career? Check. Kids? Not yet, but on the horizon. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling stretched over too many places, as if there’s not enough of me to go around.
I feel guilty that I don’t have enough time to spend with my husband, frustrated that I don’t speak another language (or another two or three) fluently enough to work in, stressed because it seems like there’s never time enough in the day to go to the gym or to yoga class. The only time I feel peaceful is when I’m writing — but that means waking up at early o’clock to claw space out of my day.
I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. For me, so far, the balance has been in learning what things I can let go. Getting fluent in Spanish? Forget it. Nightly workouts at the gym? Not gonna happen. Even so, it feels like there should be a way to move to a place, not where we can have it all, but where we don’t have to feel guilty about letting it go.