This was texted to me recently; however, it was about the southern California weather. But the sentence struck a cord.
I was brought up not to brag, not to boast, crow, or grandstand. Therefore, when I’ve won an achievement, accomplished a goal, I didn’t even know how to act when congratulated.
At some point, in college, I read a quote that stated – If you don’t toot your own horn, who will?
So began the long, arduous process of learning to reveal my accomplishments without blustering.
Sometimes, I may shift into a swagger, but mostly I try to announce my triumphs with pride.
Recently someone said to me, “aren’t you lucky?” upon hearing of my success. And I said – it’s hard work. That’s the truth. Perhaps there’s a bit of fortuitousness involved, but fortune does not favor the unprepared.
So I say – work hard and shout success from the rooftops!
“‘Dad Shining’ is a terrible name for a story.,” said a certain someone.
I replied, “The Chicago Tribune must have liked it. They’re going to publish it.”
I worked on “Dad Shining” for some time, not quite knowing what the ending needed. Then it struck me:
We grow up not really understanding our parents or why they do the things they do. When we become adults, if our maturity doesn’t lend itself to that understanding then it should lead us to empathy.
We can’t possibly know our parents challenges in the same way we comprehend our own. Therefore, we must let things go, forgive, and move on. (Whatever that forgiveness means to you. Don’t be tortured by the past)
My father passed four years ago this month. The story “Dad Shining” was published two months before he passed. (For which, I’m happy.)
It’s not a story of my father, nor of me. But it is a story of a child coming to some sort of peace with himself and extending compassion to the father he never quite understood.
(A little trivia for you – the cover was taken in Virginia where Poe’s mother is buried)
I received a few rejections recently which made me sort of giggle.
One story was called “Friends, Lovers, and Liars” and it’s about all of the above. I originally submitted it to a journal who had a call for “Deception of all types.”
In the response I received, it seemed I’d offended the editor. “This isn’t about Deception. I don’t know how you think it was. It doesn’t fit our call at all….” And he went on for a few more lines.
The story, later published in Pilcrow and Dagger, follows a main character who lies to the husband who is cheating on her, she helps a friend get a job by fudging some truths as reference, and discovers her sister can’t keep her stories straight. It’s all about deception. But something in it struck a nerve with the editor and it was rejected.
The next story is “Mirrors” and is about two sisters and their family; however, it does carry a supernatural element.
It was suggested that I make it more terrifying because it wasn’t frightening enough. Fair enough critique if I indeed was attempting to write horror, but I wasn’t.
I do appreciate the more personalized responses, but when we read others’ works we should make certain not to put our own issues or agendas into their work. That is what makes us good readers, good critique partners, and good editors.
The story belongs to the author, and while we can offer suggestions for improvement it should be to better the story they want to accomplish – not change it to suit our own preferences.
Rejections need to be appreciated. Sometimes they offer valuable information and tell us we need to do more work, and sometimes they miss the mark and we thank the editors – appreciating the time they took to respond at all! – then sit back and enjoy this crazy writing journal we’ve chosen.