Sunday, November 12, 2017

Smug Glowworms, Mouse Vindication, Self-Publishing Manifesto

The other day I was in a waiting room reading a magazine when I came across an article on female glowworms. The article said that female glowworms who have brighter lights tend to attract more mates and produce more offspring. This is unsurprising, but nonetheless, it delighted me. I imagined a dazzlingly bright glowworm, for some reason named Tracy, surrounded by admirers at a glowworm cocktail party: “Yes, it’s true. I am very bright. I was born that way. The doctors were all stunned. Of course, I take exceptional care of myself. Even the genetically gifted have to work at it,” followed by a smug chortle. Of course there was also the obligatory cluster of jealous female glowworms sniping in the corner: “That bitch Tracy thinks she’s so much better than us just because she’s bright.” When my therapist came to get me (okay, yes, it was my therapist’s waiting room, okay? Yes, I see a therapist. There, now everybody knows and can judge accordingly,) she asked me if I read anything interesting. I told her about the female glowworm discovery, and she said, “Hm. Maybe that’s why I’m not attracting men,” at which point I suggested that she start wearing shiny things. She laughed, and I felt a little thrill of victory at having accomplished my good deed for the day.  

Speaking of the animal kingdom, Mr. Typist and I were minding our business in the computer room a few nights ago when suddenly, the most godawful terrifying racket exploded in the kitchen. Normally, this would be Buddy knocking a pot out of a cupboard he’s forbidden to climb into, but the clatter continued for a full ten seconds before Mr. Typist jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I followed a few beats behind so that the ax murderer would take him first, and that’s when I saw it: A trail of cat food leading to a small opening in the floor underneath the dishwasher, and Buddy, feverish with rage. Ha! I felt totally vindicated. You see, Buddy had periodically been perching under the kitchen table, staring hypnotically at that exact spot, for weeks. At first I thought he was just being a nutter, but one day, I was heading into the kitchen when I swear to God and all that is holy that I caught a glimpse of a long brown tail vanishing under the dishwasher. It happened so fast I wasn’t sure I had actually seen it at first, and Mr. Typist didn’t seem to believe me. But the evidence was now right there—it was obvious that a cat food thieving mouse had emerged from this hidey-hole and, in broad daylight, attempted to swipe some of Buddy’s food. And Buddy was not having it.

Mr. Typist grabbed a flashlight and knelt down to look under the dishwasher. Buddy crouched right down next to him, growling, his eyes burning with fury, as if to say, “Let’s get this bastard already.” Well, it was not to be. We couldn’t find the mouse anywhere, and settled for ordering a humane trap from Amazon. We’ll see if any mice end up in it this week. *Shudder*.

When I haven’t been daydreaming about smug glowworms or tracking down errant mice, I’ve been hatching plans for my novel publication. It’s been very hard for me to move on without getting it out there, and I’ll be ready to pull the trigger on something soon. I’ve grown weary of the literary gatekeepers, my friends. I’m fed up with waiting up to a year for a response to a poem submission. I’m fed up with working really hard to prepare a submission to a publishers exacting standard, only to hear nothing at all on the other end. I’m tired of rejections for absurd reasons such as “the main character isn’t very nice.” (Right, because that’s what attracts a reader to a character—that they’re “nice.” Because we all know the greatest works of fiction feature “nice” characters. *Eye roll.*) I’m tired of the impossibly slow response times, magazines shutting down without telling their authors, dead websites, and the general literary snobbery and cronyism that pervades the industry. I want to get my writing out there, and there is no longer any reason to wait for the grand stamp of approval from on high. I know the novel is good, and I’m proud of it. Watch this space for new developments on that end soon!

Since I’m on about glowworms this week, check out this confident little guy, letting his light shine:

--Kristen McHenry

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