It's incredibly humbling to think you have the hang of one of the few things you do in your career (I'm talking broad strokes - I edit anthologies, write erotica and nonfiction, blog about cupcakes and occasionally teach erotic writing classes and organize readings), only to feel like it is impossible to get this one thing done. Hard. It's a word usually found in my books to describe body parts—penises, nipples. In this case, an anthology, which may be my last sex-related anthology, in part because this one has proven so arduous. I haven't made any final decisions yet, but I do know that if they are all this hard, I'm out. If one in many years is this hard...we'll see. It's humbling to think you have a good idea and believe you will be overwhelmed with submissions, to suddenly find you're scrambling to make your word count, hunting high and low for just the right mix to add to the equation. It feels like I've failed to reach out to the right people or maybe it was a bad idea in the first place. It makes me winder if it's a red flag, a sign that my idea that's been percolating for years is screwed from the start, though it could be that it's just a slow build and once I find those last few pieces, all the parts will make up something as grand and wonderful as what I'd originally envisioned. But in the middle, where I've been for months, it's just hard. I know from writing that the pieces that seem easy at the start aren't always the best ones, though usually, for me, they are, or maybe it's that I usually drop the pieces that are too tough and challenging and feel impossible so I never find out.
I'm at so many crossroads in my life and it's hard, too, to know what the right decisions are, which leaps of faith are worthwhile and which are foolish, where to focus my limited time and energy, when to stick to my guns and when to scrap Plan A or even B and C and start over. On this one, I have no idea, and I'm not pitching any new anthologies until I file it. I don't know if I have what it takes to keep doing them, and am holding out to see if the economics make sense, despite it being something I've loved doing. Because when it works, it's such a glorious feeling to open my inbox and find a piece of writing I myself never in a million years could or would have written, couldn't have even conceived of. It feels like a gift that someone wants to let me publish it, and always will. Right now, for the next four days, I am reminding myself that it doesn't have to be perfect (my vision of perfect, anyway), it just has to be done, or, like so many lost projects, it will never be a book, the kind people can pick up in a bookstore or download to their e-reader, it will just be a failed document on my laptop, a might have been, a symbol of a brainstorm gone awry.
I know that's a lesson I need to apply each and every day in my work, that all those queries that never get answered, all those rejections, are, in some small way, hopefully (faith, ha ha ha, I'm so bad at it) are the building blocks, the stepping stones, to the yeses, which are there, and have been this year, but sometimes I'm so stubborn and fixated on the nos I don't see them. So here's to yeses, and imperfections, and doing it anyway. And books, both the successes and the failures, made with passion and belief and dedication and hardness and humility. I want to end the year as guilt-free as possible, as unencumbered as I can be, so that I can be open to new ideas and possibilities and projects and visions. I know I am not capable of doing then when things like this hover over me like the dark clouds I saw for eight hours yesterday, the ones that made me fear for my life. But I survived the brutal rain and the visions of accidents that dance in my head when I'm in a car, and I will get through this and make room for all those delicious possibilities, that sound so fun now but surely will have their own challenges, if I'm so lucky as to be granted the opportunity to tackle them.