Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Bird in the Hand...

A Friendly Flock of Visitors
I've learned over the years that if you want to be a contributor to anthologies and periodicals, you need to become comfortable with a state of constant suspense. It goes with the territory. With the kind of first person true story creative nonfiction that's my genre, I send stories out for consideration and never hear anything back from their recipients. This is understandable.

Many publications let contributors know up front that they'll respond only if they're interested in using the material. Some considerately post on their submissions page that if you don't hear anything within a certain period of time, you can assume the material will not be selected for their publication.

Others, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, may keep your story in their database indefinitely to use not for the prospective title you'd geared it toward, but for some future publication date. Maybe they have already selected a similar story for the immediate upcoming book, but still think yours might fit in sometime in the future. It's certainly happened to me, and to other writers I know.

Yet other publications give an approximate date that they will send acceptances and rejections. So there's that suspenseful moment again before you click on the email. Will it be good news or bad news, an acceptance or rejection?

Then there's publications, such as a beloved magazine group with millions of readers that says contributors will only be contacted if their material will be used in its magazines or website. This certainly is understandable. This particular well know brand name receives thousands of unsolicited manuscripts each month, and its editors claim they read them all.

So yesterday when I saw a message from that publication in my inbox, you can imagine my reaction. Of course I felt a surge of joyous anticipation. I'd done it! I'd broken into a market that I hadn't tried before. Wow...cause for celebration amid all the chaos of my days right now, as I try to clear my house out for moving back to California.

Then I opened the note and found that might not really be the case. A senior editor took time from her busy schedule of poring over countless manuscripts to offer a little advice and a little comfort. (I've deleted identifying information.)

 Hi, Terri. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your story. (I just read it again.) It’s not the kind of story we usually tell in our publications, but I’m hanging on to it in case I come up with a place to put it. Thanks so much for sending it to us.

Will they? Won't they? For me, the delight is that somebody read and apparently liked my story, enough to go back and reread it. How kind to let me know. So even if this story never sees print in this particular magazine, I feel affirmed and appreciated.

This morning a flock of wild turkeys landed in my pasture. When I went out to photograph them, I thought about the old saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Sure. But is that all the fun there is?

If one of these turkeys hopped up and begged me to ensnare it, provided, of course, during legal turkey hunting season, I'd certainly have the question of what's for dinner solved. On the other hand, if the birds stuck around, playing now-you-have-us, now-you-don't, I'd continue to enjoy the thrill of pursuit.

Seems to me it's a win-win. The birds haven't yet taken flight. They're hanging around, enjoying my pasture. There's still that outside chance I'll eventually enjoy a tasty dinner. And that's better than an outright rejection any day.

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