Today I did something I haven’t done in awhile. I submitted my writing for publication.
It’s another thing that I’ve put on hold for so long because of my writing name worries. I was in utter paralysis about my work because of it. I still submitted worked occasionally (like, once or twice a year), some under Emilia Jordan, some under my real name, and worried how it would complicate things if anything ever got accepted under either name.
But I’m ready to move forward again. Over the last couple of months, I did deep revisions on two of my personal essays, “Reasonable Doubt” and “Distant Light.” These are the two essays that felt the closest to publishable, and though I’d put off revising them for awhile, sometimes years, because it felt so daunting, I finally undertook revising both of them (thanks quarantine?) and got both to a place where I felt they were ready to be sent out.
I originally started this blog to write about writing, and TV, and disability issues, and science, and music but I also struggle with blogging. Sometimes it feels more like a duty than something I enjoy doing. That’s especially true when I’m so busy with school and my job, and just trying to find time to write is a real challenge.
This year, I set a goal to write at least 4 days a week for at least an hour. That doesn’t add up to a lot, just 4 hours a week, and yet it’s still been difficult to find that time. Most weeks, I’ve met that goal, but there’ve been a few weeks I didn’t. There have been lots of weeks, like this last one, where I spent as much time writing as I would on a full-time job.
So many things have me revisiting my musical past as of late. It’s really kind of odd how so many things converged at once. Sometimes I feel like, for whatever reason, I just really let music slip away for awhile, and over the last month, a switch has flipped and all of a sudden, I’m back.
I think I’m a little too embarrassed to admit one of the things that started all this. I’ll just say this: it was a TV show. And it wasn’t that I loved the music on the show so much as one of the characters reminded me of how I used to feel about music, and that got me listening to CDs again, and trying to rebuild my old music collection by buying a bunch of used CDs, and looking into concerts and shows again. Okay, I’ll give a hint, since it sort of relates to the remainder of the post, this TV show I don’t quite want to name is named after a song.
This spring I submitted several pieces of writing to a handful of contests and had almost forgotten about it. But last night I got an email that my essay “Seeing and Not Seeing” won third place in the Willamette WritersKay Snow Writing Contest for non-fiction!
Everywhere you walk, you “get caned”—hit by several canes from all different directions. There are just so many people navigating their way around that it’s impossible to avoid. From the moment you emerge from your room to the time you reenter it, you get caned. There are dogs everywhere too. They are also getting caned at every turn, and surrounded by so many other dogs. I think they are more overwhelmed than the people. The hotel has set aside a place outside for people to relieve their guide dogs but I keep hearing that some of them, especially the ones that have never been to a convention before, are having some bladder issues.
“We’re not literally going to die,” I reminded Natalie as I gathered up my things to leave her apartment and walk back across the street to mine. “I mean, no one’s going to shoot us or anything. The worst that will happen is that we fail–”
“I kinda feel like I might actually fail,” Natalie said, sort of laughing the way people laugh when they’re trying not to cry. I knew that laugh so well by now, had laughed it myself so many times.
I grabbed my huge eight-pound book with the fluorescent green cover and shoved it into my backpack. “Me too,” I admitted. I looked around her living room, to all of our practice tests and answer keys scattered over her couch, chair and coffee table; the erasers bloody with pencil shavings, my pink and purple mechanical pencils and Natalie’s straight-up golden #2s; our notecards in several haphazard piles; our identical molecular models of cyclohexane with their carbons and hydrogens in the most stable chair conformations. Natalie sat on her couch, pulling a plush brown blanket around her shoulders. Her apartment looked like a warzone. “That practice test was brutal,” I said. “I’m the one who couldn’t even finish it.” I had given up early into the second practice test, as per usual, feeling I just didn’t know enough to go forward, every question making me feel more like a failure than the last.
I am albino, which means my skin and hair are paler than pale, and though I have partial vision, I’m legally blind. I grew up in a town where it seemed everyone worshiped at the same handful of churches and was white and voted Republican and wore the same clothes. I was white, but I was too white. I was an agnostic atheist, a bleeding heart, and I dressed like the grunge-rock musicians I admired. I didn’t even fit in with the delinquent kids, because my parents were too strict and my grades too good. I felt like the town freak.
Nothing emphasized my feelings of alienation like a school dance, where I’d sit at the back of the cafeteria and eat chips to numb myself. One time I tried to mingle, but a girl I’d ridden to the dance with told me to stop following her around like a puppy. I went back to the food table and tried to disappear.