Which I will illustrate with the help of my favorite children's book. All images copyright the magnificent Remy Charlip, 1969.
Some time ago I was approached by the editor of a small press who wanted me to submit to a poetry anthology he was putting together. I was pleased when my prose poem was accepted. Since I was a little unnerved by the number of misspellings and typos in his communications, though, I asked who would be editing. The writers would be responsible for proofing their own work, he said. Well, okay....
When I got an email announcing the book’s publication, I was dubious, because I’d never been emailed a proof to check. Yesterday, I got the box of books to bring to the reading series that's slated in New York for fall.
When I turned to page 68, I could not, at first, believe my eyes. The piece they'd accepted was 1,606 words long. The piece I was looking at was under 500 words. It stopped in the middle. More baffling, the paragraphs were out of sequence. The title was missing. It was more than truncated, it was nonsensical. I was white-hot with frustration, rage, crushing disappointment. But there was very, very little I could do. So I did those things.
Today, on the other hand, I got accepted into an artist's residency at the Osage Arts Community, which all artists should apply to because it promises to be awesome, and I had my phone interview with its executive director, Mark McClane, and I have never spoken to a nicer fella, and I've been invited to write there, at a time of my choosing and for as long as I wish to stay, among the cows, horses, chickens, dogs, hogs, and "roughly a dozen deer" that share their property. I don't even have to find a dogsitter -- they've invited my dog too.
Walking a friend home that evening, I caught the first firefly I've seen this season. When I opened my hand, it climbed onto my thumb and rode there for the next ten blocks, its antenna waving wildly in the breeze like a dog with its head hanging out of the car window.
The book flashes through my mind every so often, and I feel disrespected, unseen, unheard...all the childhood monsters roiling with renewed vigor. I'm exhausted with the effort of calming them, frankly. Yet I am being seen and heard and valued as an artist, too. I'm sure there are more bad lows followed by good highs to come. There's always more to come....