When I saw the call out from Wising Up Press at Universal Table for reflections about good deeds, I knew immediately what I'd write about. Here's the call out:
We start with the best of intentions - opening our hearts, offering suggestions, good will, time, skills, food, money, a bed - betting this instinctual generosity will. . .well that's not always so clear. But however cloudy the immediate goal, the larger one glows. We're making a world we want to be part of, doing what we feel is right or just, or just expressing preemptive solidarity, acting toward someone in the way we would like them to act toward us if our situations were reversed. Often enough, our generosity leads to greater friendship, empowerment, optimism, reciprocity. But then there are those other times - with a different person or the very same one - when our actions and motives may seem consistent with whatever we did before, but the consequences, practical and social, are dramatically different and call into question some of our most cherished assumptions. We can feel like a trump, an easy mark. We can feel obscurely or openly responsible for whatever went askew. Or angry. Betrayed. Shamed. Defensive. But, for some reason that is as powerful as it is unclear, we are unwilling to stay in that state and, at the same time, unwilling to write off the consequences as an aberration, a bad bet. We invite writers to explore through poetry, fiction, memoir and creative non-fiction acts of generosity that have had unintended consequences and the sense, over time, we have made of them.
I wrote about a decision I'd made to help a former boyfriend for a few years while he wrote two novels. I had the time and money to share his life. He had the time and talent to finally write a couple of stories that had haunted him. Nothing turned out the way I'd envisioned it...but, I'd do it again. So I wrote my essay, "Needs."
Today I learned that Wising Up will not be publishing my story, nor the book:
We regret to inform you that we will not be publishing the Good Deeds that Turn On Us & the Sense We Make of Them anthology. This decision has been made reluctantly and after extended consideration of all manuscripts.
Although we received many submissions and read them with openness and care, we did not find enough of them with the depth of characterization and emotional insight needed to make up a strong anthology that has those qualities we value in our Wising Up anthologies – warm, empathic, musing, and open to new meaning.
We are disappointed because we really liked this theme and thought it provided a good opportunity to reflect on the mysterious origins of altruism and is uneven consequences in the world, a very Universal Table theme.
However, if we had had more submissions like yours, perhaps the anthology would have pulled together. Please keep your eye out for other Calls for Submissions of ours and submit again if you feel you have appropriate material.
Heather and Charles
Heather Tosteson, Ph.D.
Charles D. Brockett, Ph.D.
Wising Up Press
What kind words..."if we had had more submissions like yours."
I'll continue to look for a publisher for this story...I've sent it to Dream of Things as a possible tale for its planned book on stories about forgiveness. I think it might be a good fit.
Nonetheless, I'm disappointed that this anthology shall not be born...it would have been an engrossing one indeed!
Universal Table has a welcoming philosophy that continues to resonate with me:
The aim of Universal Table is to promote tolerance and social trust along many dimensions of life - or those are the words we have been using in our official mission statement. But each time we use them, we realize we are trying to describe something far broader - something that encompasses welcome, difference, surprise and inclusion, truthfulness and authenticity, and an equal place for each of us and what we hold most dear. These are the true goals of Universal Table: Finding the We in Them, the Us in You.
Strokes and periods
2 days ago