Armed & Loaded

That’s the attitude I’m trying to fake these days. Fake until it’s real. ‘Armed & Loaded’ is an invisible tattoo dead center on my forehead. Really, my every atom is sighing FUNK.

I drink Yogi herbal tea and love/hate the tiny rectangles of wisdom at the end of the string on every teabag. This morning’s kernel: “Empty yourself and let the universe fill you.” My response today: Whatever.

I’m insanely busy on the writing front, but worry it’s the busy of jogging on the spot till I’m purple in the face and hyperventilating in the lungs and getting no where.

Just this past week, I had two readings, and in the past couple of weeks I’ve had four stories published. The reading this past Saturday took place across the Bay Bridge in Oakland. The wonderful ‘East Bay on the Brain Reading Series’ hosted by Lauren Becker. I broke my long-held rule and drank a cocktail before I read. Vodka and fresh grapefruit, ying and tang. The way to go, friends, WAY TO GO. I had fun, mingled, and especially enjoyed the wonderful line up of fellow readers: Hollie Hardy, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Krysten Bean, Ken Weaver, and Evan Karp. Is it okay to say Hollie Hardy and Hugh Behm-Steinberg rocked? Hollie Hardy and Hugh Behm-Steinberg rocked.

My reading this past Monday was INSANE, but in a mostly beautiful way. The venue, 851 Haight Street, is a SQUAT with no power, bathroom, and in some rooms no walls! There are also many gaping holes in the floor. Everything stripped to bare timber. I fell in love with host Janey Smith from the first moment we met. He knew I was FREAKED by the venue and he did his utmost to help me feel welcome and relaxed. I also AGAIN broke my long-held ‘no drinking before I read’ rule and enjoyed a neat Irish whiskey. The way to go, friends, the way to go.

I was the oldest reader on the night and the only female reader, and the only traditional narrative storyteller–all things that would have rattled me to my core in the past. Also the lighting was so poor that for the first time EVER I had to read while wearing glasses! However, I embraced the event and decided to just be ME. I gave the reading my all and believe my work was very well received. It was freeing to stay true to myself and just be me, not trying to fit in or be cool, but simply sharing and celebrating my work with others and allowing the story to either fly or fall.

Okay, I admit I also felt bolstered by my shoes. My shoes were hot. HAWT.

I also admitted to the audience that, cough, cough, unlike some of my fellow readers, I’d never gotten high. I wanted to be high on Monday night. Just pot happy high. After I read, a certain fellow reader offered me the fattest joint I’ve ever seen. Boy was I tempted. Suffice to say, smoking a joint remains on my bucket list.

In the past few weeks, I’ve sent out several agent queries for my novel and my short story collection. I received some ‘nos’ on both, only one full request thus far on the ssc, and I’m awaiting responses from others. I’m aware I may never hear anything. After ten years of working on and off on my novel, I think I have to finally accept it’s unsaleable–not because of the quality of the writing but because of the subject matter. I believe in this book and believe it’s a gripping and worthwhile read, but I’m now facing the hard truth that I most likely won’t get a publisher to bite, at least certainly not the bigger houses. Here’s my novel’s summary:

“Kisses With Teeth is set in Dublin, Ireland, in 1980 and centers on Gavin Flynn, a middle-aged, working-class bus driver. At the novel’s opening, Gavin’s humdrum existence with his wife and three daughters is shattered when their middle child, fourteen-year-old Maeve, becomes pregnant. As the family struggle with the shame and scandal surrounding the teenage pregnancy in a still religiously and socially repressed Ireland, Gavin also wrangles with his growing infatuation with Maeve’s best friend, Claire. Claire is also fourteen. Throughout the course of the novel, as Gavin’s family and work life disintegrate, he is forced to take stock of himself, confronting his darkest fears and greatest hopes.”

So the subject matter is difficult and problematic and the plot summary scares. However, I feel sure that if I could just get agents/publishers to read the ms, they’d recognize its value. That said, I need to put Kisses With Teeth to bed and move on to a new novel. Otherwise, I’m going to stay stuck. I need to get out of stuck. I have strategies. I’ve entered several writing competitions and am hopeful. I’ve applied to writing conferences and for a MacDowell residency. I’ve applied to freelance at the much hailed Writers’ Grotto here in San Francisco and am going there for lunch tomorrow to meet and greet. Wish me luck!

I have subbed a lot of stories to lit mags I once believed I could never break into, lit mags that are taking a LONG time to respond. I also plan to attend more readings in the city. I plan to write more book reviews, essays, and creative non-fiction, and push myself beyond my fiction work. I’m reading books, books, and more books. I’m picking apart the bios and books of writers I especially love and admire and asking myself, “okay, how are they doing it?”

I’m trying insanely hard, to the point of banging my head against the wall in frustration.

My short-short “Haunt” went live at fwriciton : review today.

My short-short “Take That” went live at metazen today.

Booth Magazine published my short-short “Dark Stars” as part of their monologues project. My deep thanks to Bryan Furuness and Michael Martone for soliciting me for this excellent series.

My story “Saturday Girl” is in the current issue of Eclectica Magazine. I love Eclectica Magazine. The story is dedicated to my dear friend, P.D., who like me was also a Saturday Girl once upon a time.

The rejections and disappointments keep coming. Sledge hammers that laugh at my invisible ‘Armed & Loaded’ tattoo. I remain brazen, even if it’s only fake brazen.

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