Life this winter and spring has been less about balance and more about fulcrums. You know, like when you’re moving up and down a lot but not getting anywhere. At least a roller coaster has forward momentum and a few thrills along the way. A seesaw just lifts up and crashes down with a jolt at the end of each direction. Nearly all of the endeavors I’ve made since last fall have come with commensurate concussions. Case manager is leaving for a full-time job. Hire new case manager. Send in manuscript to potential agent and wait. . . finally getting rejected by potential agent (but in the nicest way possible). Move office to other side of town, deal with people yelling on the phone that the office has moved. Start new manuscript, get sidelined by a different project. Apply to literary contest, fail to make the finals. Apply to writer’s workshop with no hope of getting accepted.
Then gasp at the screen when reading the acceptance letter.
I still pinch myself that I’ll be a Fellow at this year’s Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers Workshop in LA, working with Samuel Delany for a novel in progress of mine. Even though the subject line said “Congratulations,” I figured it was going to be an email asking me to send my congratulations to the 2013 fellows who naturally wouldn’t include me. Thus the gasp.
“What,” asked Susanne, who started reading over my shoulder as HGTV played softly on the television across our small living room.
“I got accepted to the Lambda Literary workshop,” I said. “I can’t believe it.”
“I can,” she said. Reason number 327,465 why I’m on Team Susanne.
I admit that I read the email half a dozen times before I believed it. It wasn’t spam or a phishing scam. The next series of thoughts that crossed my mind were all related in their ludicrousness–but I’m not cool enough to hang with other authors, I don’t even have a tattoo; I’ll need to get a single so I don’t snore my roommate into a homicidal rage; the baby will be so mad at me for going away for a week; but who will help Susanne with childcare for eight days; I don’t have enough nice outfits; maybe Annie Danger can tattoo me before the end of July; holy shit I think my manuscript stinks worse than a dead possum so when am I going to fix it.
Big breaths, Everett. Big breaths.
I have spent so much time running around Walla Walla for work and the wee one that I hardly come up for air, just in general. Since February I’ve been revising my YA time-travel novel, often wishing I had a temporal transportation pod so I could redo most of last October. I’ve dragged this laptop around to so many places the actual case is falling apart, and no amount of Mr. T-themed bumperstickers will keep it together. Maybe it’s a metaphor for my shitty organizational capacity, come to think of it. I have stress dreams about losing all of my documents, so thank goodness for the external hard drive. Too bad my dreaming self never remembers the external hard drive. My dreaming self listens to no one.
We talked the night I read the acceptance letter, about how to make it work. I honestly never thought I’d be accepted. I’m not all that different from last year, when the rejection email appeared just as suddenly one day. But I am different, in ten thousand tiny ways. And this is one more lesson that when I stop worrying about my value and just write what I think is truth, that people get interested. I will try to bring that honesty to Los Angeles. Bring my best self and most impassioned writing ability.
I may still try to get a tattoo from Annie, though.