Assiduous Me

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I have wonderful news to announce: Tiny Hardcore Press has accepted my full-length poetry collection for publication in 2014!

If ever there were a place to abuse the “You get ONE exclamation point in your life” rule, this is it!

Oh, people! I am so happy! I am so affirmed! I am so relieved!

Y’all know how long I’ve been working on this thing. Some of the poems originate as far back as my MFA thesis, which feels like an eon ago. It’s been through–oh, I don’t know–eleventy billion iterations since then, during which many more poems got written.

It has had at least two distinct POVs. It has been sectioned and un-sectioned, and sectioned again.

It has had something like four different titles. (and will have another before publication, because my editor and I agree the current one is not the right one.)

It has been submitted to and rejected by something like 35 presses over the last three years, and very likely that tally is much higher given how old the thing is versus how long I’ve been keeping scrupulous track.

In short, nothing about this has been short.

But I realized this week in thinking about the seeming endlessness of this journey, that this is kind of how I roll, apparently. For instance, it took me 9 years from the time I first sent out a poem (I think it was to the New Yorker–aim high!) to get my first publication. (which was not in the New Yorker.) It took me 6 years of applications (interspersed with 1 marriage, 1 divorce and 1 MA in creative writing, earned part time at night) before I was accepted into a full-time MFA program. And anyone who follows this blog, knows it took me 8 years to write my memoir.

Now, we leave statistics for anecdote: did you all know that my first boyfriend was/is a poet? In high school, we were in the same Gifted & Talented program for writers. We would take turns winning the school writing contests and would appear on facing pages in the literary magazine. He was a much, much better poet than I was at the time and I was very aware of this fact. I continued to be aware of his talent as I watched him be accepted to his MFA program many years ahead of me. I watched him garner his first book publication (and then his second and third) before me. I watched him land a tenure-track job (that wasn’t easy for him, either, even with an MFA, a PhD and several books. The market is crap.) before me.

I don’t want it to sound like I’m harboring any bitterness here. (Well, maybe a little, but that’s because he was kind of a crappy boyfriend. But it’s okay! We’ve grown up, remained friends and moved past that stupid key chain he gave me in the band room the day he broke up with me: Never regret the things you have done. Only regret the things you have never tried. Whatever, sixteen-year-old poet dude. None of us had any moves in 1985.)

No, not bitterness, but a kind of curious awe. How did he do that? And why is my path so much different?

Different, but no worse. Longer, but not lesser.

And in the end, here I am. On the cusp of having the artifact for which I have longed, for which I have worked assiduously,if frustratedly, for years. And I’m here with a press I truly admire, in the smart company of a vibrancy of writers, and under the wing of an editor I respect and hold in wildly positive esteem. 

This is the good stuff, people. In every way worth waiting for.

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11 thoughts on “Assiduous Me

  1. Sharon McGill says:

    Congrats, Sheila! This is such an inspiring story, and once again proves that about 90% of success in anything boils down to good ‘ole grit. Never give up! Tiny Hardcore is a fantastic press, and I look forward to picking up your beautiful book.

  2. Sheila Williams says:

    Oh Sheila, CONGRATULATIONS! (!!!!!)
    I’m so happy that all your hard work and determination has paid off. Enjoy!
    Aunt Sheila

  3. Letitia says:

    Just heard about this via C-Y and let me say, heartily, congratulations! I will use my one exclamation point for you and your victory.

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