Thursday, January 24, 2019

the most exquisite drug

In about mid-February, we are coming up on the 20th anniversary of my very first acceptance for a poem--two of them actually, appearing in consecutive issues. . I'd had college lit mag poems aplenty, and used to send to an org called Quill Books that at times seemed like a good resource with a writer's advice magazine.  But I'm pretty sure the point was to include your poem for the $25 it cost for the anthology.  But I still felt like I lacked a "real" publication--ie one who the editors were a) not out to make money on me, and b) the editors were people I did not know. But meanwhile, at 24, I was sending a lot of work out as fast as I could lick those SASE's and in February of 1999, came what I had so desperately been seeking.  It was not, of course, Poetry or the New Yorker, but a tiny, local feminist lit mag. but as happy as I was, you'd have thought it was the New York Times. 

It was amazing how quickly my day could change --I'd just been grocery shopping, so I was cranky and my arms tired from carrying my haul for three blocks back to my tiny LP apartment, and had stopped by the mailboxes in the lobby on my way back in.  I'm pretty sure I let out an audible squeal when I opened the envelope. It was a really small,saddle-stapled publication with a tiny circulation, but good god, it went so far in finally making me feel like a writer--a real one.  With poems in books and everything. It would still be a couple years before I discovered the wide world of internet journals, so this was singular and big.  I carried that acceptance around with me in my journal for awhile, and later, put it in a scrapbook from those very early years when things were novel enough to need a scrapbook for. Even though I haven't pulled it out in a while I still remember exactly what the paper looked like, Rhe scrawl of acceptance and poem titles on an otherwise form slip of paper.. 

Moon Journal, of course, would go onto publish quite a few more of my poems in their issues, and my very first chapbook, The Archaeoloist's Daughter..  I still have every issue I appeared in squirreled away somewhere. This was the very beginnings of my internet browsing, but I think my knowledge of it was totally analog.  I remember a tiny mention of the journal and address for submissions on a newsletter that accompanied a rejection for a local anthology I'd sent work for.

It was good timing, considering I had spent the previous winter writing and submitting like mad and finally something had come from it.  While I still was uncertain of what the future held, my Ph.D applications and future job plans in flux,  I felt like I knew for sure my life would include writing and publishing.  It sort of sealed the deal and hooked me on the most exquisite drug ever.   Within a few years, I'd be publishing widely, both online and in print, but even though every acceptance is exciting in it's way, somehow that very first one made me feel like I was finally a writer--that I could do this crazy thing.

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