Come to This Reading I'm Hosting. Or Not.

I'm in a weird head-space. Tomorrow I'm hosting and taking part in an event that feels much bigger and important than it really is. Maybe this is because I haven't organized a reading or participated in one for a long time, and maybe this is because there will be people there (friends, colleagues) who haven't read or heard my work before, and maybe this is because the work I'll be 'presenting' -- it's weird using that word -- is so unlike other work I've put out into the world. It's two scenes from a new play I began this summer, and it's being read by two people who aren't me, and it's a comedy, and it's not written with poetry, and it's crass in a way that makes me feel really vulnerable -- because I fear that it will be too crass for some of the audience, and really not enough for others -- I don't want to push boundaries in a half-ass way, but I'm probably going to offend some people and I just have to get over that. I'm excited for it and also dreading it. I really want to forget about my own work and listen to other people read their own poems and fiction and then chat and laugh and merry-make, and then I want also to crawl into a hole or back into my bed or maybe run away, very far away, and not see anyone for a long time.

Also, if hope is an island and I'm standing on it and all of my book submissions are a great ocean all around me, and every time I receive a rejection the waves from that ocean encroach and erode a little more of the shoreline, I'm standing currently on a patch of beach about four feet by four feet, with no trees or fauna to protect me from the sun, and I'm about to just give in to the waves and say fuck it and sink. I did this to myself by submitting my book fucking everywhere for the past year -- I knew the rejections would come in all at once, particularly since a lot of those book contests or open reading periods had the same approximate deadlines. But here I am, feeling dejected anyway. And envious. It's really difficult to hear about your peers' second and third books coming out -- people you consider your peers because, when you met them, you were more or less in the same place, in terms of a writing career -- and get back nothing but rejection on the manuscript you really hoped believed would be your first book. And so yes, anonymous chickenshit hater, I do feel like a fraud and a hack:

Yes, of course, the reasonable person in me says that I shouldn't listen to anything that's sent anonymously and by someone so obviously lazy and unimaginative, but I resent the implication that this person thinks I somehow imagine myself to be more important than I am. I've had a few poems in a few very good places, and I'm proud of that, but I'm also realistic in that they are JUST a very FEW places and they happen sporadically, like every ten years. I don't get my work accepted or published widely, I don't have even one book published after over a decade post-MFA, and I teach at a community college, which makes me a pariah in the larger world of academia and a shit-heel to those who have a well-honed disdain for writers who take the teaching route. I have no delusions about my importance in the larger literary world.

So fuck, man.

Did I say weird head-space? I meant bad head-space. I've been in a terrible mood for the past few days. Here's to hoping I get my head outta my ass some time soon.


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