Year to Date 2011

And the latest in the ongoing saga of my writing life…

2011 Stats (as of 12/30/11):
Stories Circulating: 11
Rejections: 106
Sales: 1

Not a bad tally, considering I didn’t start sending stories out until March and that most journals are closed to submissions all summer. I didn’t want to be sending stories out and getting rejections in the mail while I was still in graduate school; it felt like I desperately wanted my adviser’s approval of my work and any further rejection would have made it impossible to write at all. Not the healthiest attitude, and one I’m very much looking forward to shedding. Next year I want to send out more like 150-200 submissions.

I’m not upset about these rejections; a lot of them were long shots like The New Yorker, and I did get a number of personal rejections from good journals and a sale to a lovely journal, The MacGuffin. I just need to keep trying. But what I’m submitting is basically the best of the short stories I wrote in grad school, no new work, so that’s the real challenge for next year. Writers write, and I need to be applying butt to chair and coming up with new stories.

An evolving definition of home

It’s been a really extraordinary week. My parents and brother came in to see me, and we spent the week doing all the things I’ve intended to do since coming here but never gotten around to: wandering through the Duke Gardens, eating at all the restaurants my friends in the area rave about, driving to the little out-of-the-way towns to look at the Revolutionary War-era architecture. In an odd twist, the Duke Chapel and surrounding buildings were built to look like Princeton, which meant that wandering around the center of campus made me feel very much at home.

But one of the reasons for the visit was for my folks to help me make my apartment into more of a home. Having lived in New York for so many years and having moved so many times, my design sense was really based on: 1. Do I absolutely need it? 2. Can I transport it easily? Which meant that I hadn’t even gotten new posters since my sophmore year of college, and in the twelve years since graduation I’ve really only accumulated a bed and a couple of puffy chairs by way of furniture. And the further I get into my thirties, the more I feel this growing sense that this is the point in my life when I should be developing adult tastes and settling into a home and a life, when I should have a home that can welcome other people in and sustain more than just myself.

After a week of really concerted effort, the apartment is completely changed. My mom has a gift for turning any place into a home, and she’s wonderful at drawing out what people really feel and want. I now have quirky, beautiful wall art, bookshelves that have a design sense, an accent table, plants, and family photos going back to the mid-19th century. It all feels like me, even though I never would have done it if left to my own devices, and it makes me eager to get more things (a coffee table, a lamp, glass bottles) to brighten the space even more. It feels like not just a place where I want to spend time, but a place that can welcome in friends and help me reach out to people more.