Writing Celebrations and Struggles, As Told in GIFs

Celebrations:

First, I have a publication date for Evening Body, my poetry chapbook! October 16! Advanced copy/Pre-publication sales will be in the summer, and the size of the print run depends on the number of pre-pub sales, so be looking for some blog giveaways related to that!

Second, I have had the opportunity to be a part of a new website called Borderlandz, created by Jason Coker. Borderlandz is a year-long archival project to explore the shifting borders of faith in America through personal stories. Between Pentecost 2015 and Pentecost 2016 the site will collect, archive, and share recorded stories of how faith is changing for everyday Americans. My first post for Borderlandz is titled “How Writing My Faith Memoir Made Me Lose Faith.” Check it out! Also, visit the site to record your own faith story!

Here’s an excerpt:

At that point I began to ask the question: Is the church harmful? I began to see how I have spent years dealing with perfection and people-pleasing issues. I have bent over backwards to say and do the right thing to make everyone think I was a good Christian. I have aimed to be humble in every situation and have felt guilty for calling attention to myself. At some point those messages about humility became messages about my lack of worth. 

Also, I have two new literary publications – three poems at Gravel Mag and an essay titled “Solid Ground” at Cargo Literary. Both of these journals are visual treats, and use a clean layout with a combination of color photographs and text. I have enjoyed reading the writing represented in both of these journals! I hope you will take time to peruse them! Cargo Literary is particularly interested in travel-related writing, for any of my TCK readers who are also into writing! Here’s an excerpt from my essay:

My mother won’t let us forget that we are Southern. She strains the ants out of the cornmeal mix that came in a package from the States and fries up some cornbread. There are pinto beans, too. Their smell has simmered in the house all afternoon. We sit down together, the heat from both the food and the muggy day snuggling in around us. Dad gets up to turn the fan on. We can hear the pau laew bird singing through the window screen. Mom and I smother our cornbread patties with butter; my brother smears his with jelly, and Dad says the meal is too bland. I think all we need is a fudge pie, but we have the traditional Thai dessert: fruit. I eat two pieces of pineapple, thinking how sweet it tastes here.

And my feelings about being published at a few cool places:

 

Struggles:

I have been working to edit a longer creative nonfiction piece for a journal called The Big Roundtable. (I found this journal through Rachel Pieh Jones’ essay The Proper Weight of Fear.) They have not accepted my essay as-is, but have given me some good revision suggestions and the editors are willing to look at one section at a time and work with me. I got the email from them over a month ago. Yet every time I have sat down to work on this project, I feel like I can’t get the words out. I feel like there is a message trying to worm its way out of me, but I can’t quite grasp it yet. So instead of focusing, I usually check out People.com or Facebook.

 

And I keep thinking about going back to my YA novel, which I haven’t really touched since March. I keep thinking that if I just do what I did in November for NaNoWriMo and aim to write lots of words, regardless of quality, I can get it done. But thinking is not doing, is it? Last night I stayed up an extra hour later than normal to try to work on something. Guess what? I checked out People.com and Facebook.

 

NOTHING. I DO NOTHING.

Also, I got a couple of rejections from bigger literary magazines lately. One was from The Missouri Review, which is a journal that charges a small submission fee, which kinda makes it extra disappointing. But the editors did say, “Your work impressed the editorial staff with its tenderness. Though not selected for publication, the piece makes us hope we’ll see more of your writing in the near future.” And I was all:

 

Another rejection was from PANK, and the rejection appeared to be just a generic form rejection, but it was signed by Roxane Gay, who not only is an editor for PANK, but a well known writer. Now PANK is one of those journals that has readers who read through the slush piles and filter the better writing for the editors. But I was wondering if Roxane Gay actually read my poems are not and sent out a random tweet about it:

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And then she tweeted me back!

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So yes, Roxane Gay read my poems. (And deemed them unworthy) But whatevs. She read my poems!!

 

 

What are your celebrations and struggles? Share in the comments! 

7 comments

  1. claire says:

    Many congrats, Karissa, on the good publication news! And thank you as always for sharing the story of your struggle/the struggle of your story!

  2. Lily Dunn says:

    Some really fantastic news here, Karissa. You are so prolific. I really don’t know how you do it. I have a few guest posts coming out this week which I’m excited about, but between those and keeping up with regular blogging I have done no work whatsoever on my book. I set out in January with the goal of pulling together a draft (or at least a pretty complete framework) by August because I know that I have more time now than I will have when I get back to America. And here it is, May, and I am nowhere near that goal. Sigh. It’s mentally taxing to be working on so many projects (plus working and job searching, etc) and sometimes it’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that all I want to do is watch makeup tutorials on youtube.
    So…celebrating with you in the victories and empathizing with you in the distractions.
    Also, read your piece for Borderlandz. Felt like I could have written it myself.

    • Thanks, Lily! Remember that just because something was published recently doesn’t necessarily mean it’s new writing. :) The wait for an acceptance can be long. :) I hear you on not meeting writing goals – I had planned on having my novel finished by the end of May (at least the first draft). Not gonna happen. For me it is time. I don’t want to get up at 4 am again but I have to admit that it’s hard for me to carve out time. And when I do, I don’t feel like I use that time wisely! Also, the blog has become an issue. To be honest, I almost don’t want to blog anymore. I’ve thought about quitting. It would free up a little more writing time. I mean, I’ve been blogging for a LONG time and it’s not like I have a ton of followers. And my goals are publishing goals, not blog-related/social media goals. But then I like to have an online space to connect with other writers . . . . vicious cycle.

  3. Joanne Corey says:

    Congratulations on the successes! I’m also glad that even the “struggles” have their positive points.

    I am finding that even my celebrations are tempered by sadness lately. For example, my first ever appearance in an actual, hold-in-your-hands poetry anthology, “Candles of Hope” which is a fundraiser for Topic of Cancer in the UK, arrived just as we learned that the person about whom I had written the poem that appears there is having a recurrence. It’s tough.

    I am inching my way toward beginning to submit poems to literary journals. I finally have some poems that I think are strong, but have yet to get the nuts and bolts together, such as setting up a tracking database and figuring out which journals might be interested. My mom has been hospitalized twice in recent weeks, which, added to the rest of my family and organizational commitments, has left me not enough time/brainpower to deal with submissions – or keep up with my blog as I wish to.

    For selfish reasons, I hope you continue to blog because I appreciate what you write, but, of course, you must do what is best for you.

  4. Joanne Corey says:

    Congratulations on the successes! I’m also glad that even the “struggles” have their positive points.

    I am finding that even my celebrations are tempered by sadness lately. For example, my first ever appearance in an actual, hold-in-your-hands poetry anthology, “Candles of Hope” which is a fundraiser for Topic of Cancer in the UK, arrived just as we learned that the person about whom I had written the poem that appears there is having a recurrence. It’s tough.

    I am inching my way toward beginning to submit poems to literary journals. I finally have some poems that I think are strong, but have yet to get the nuts and bolts together, such as setting up a tracking database and figuring out which journals might be interested. My mom has been hospitalized twice in recent weeks, which, added to the rest of my family and organizational commitments, has left me not enough time/brainpower to deal with submissions – or keep up with my blog as I wish to.

    For selfish reasons, I hope you continue to blog because I appreciate what you write, but, of course, you must do what is best for you.

    (For some reason, I’m having trouble getting this to post. It’s either going to show up a half dozen times or not at all.)

    • Joanne, Sorry it didn’t show up at first – not sure what happened! It’s very hard to balance writing with real life. I find that sometimes I just have to do life and put writing aside for a while. I hope you will find peace in the midst of all your sad news!

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