Monday, November 7, 2011

The Whole Truth


I am not immune to certain superstitions.

Today I have fortified myself for work like going to battle. This battle requires not weapons and war paint, but spiritual armor. I wear Frida Kahlo at my neck and the Virgin of Guadalupe on my finger. For reasons that aren't entirely clear even to me, these are my girls. These are my women. Fierce little Frida, painting her odd paintings of macabre femininity. As for the Virgin of Stars, what can I say: the lady abides. No, I'm not Catholic (or Mormon or Lutheran), it's difficult to qualify what I am, but I do believe in symbols and these women represent to me the things I need: fierceness. Soulfulness. Honesty.

I have also armed myself with some AC/DC. That is where my spiritual frequency is found, today. American thighs shook me all night long, best damn woman that I've ever seen, and all that.

I believe in doses of bravery, whatever the source.


I have a story in my head. A story about myself. In this story I have written, I am the best. I am the specialist little snowflake. I know it's not pretty, but it's true.

Think of it like the mirror of Erised. My dreams aren't innocent, like Dumbledore's or Potter's. My dreams are like Ron Weasley's. They involve glory, preferably public glory. They involve my version of winning. Not sports trophies or Best Mom in the World mugs. My dreams are of publishing. I've been working toward them for seven long years.

Years full of setbacks. Challenges.


I didn't imagine it would go this way. I imagined it all would come easily, that I would accomplish publishing the way I accomplished good grades in school. Naturally. Doing, after all, the only thing I'm really good at. And my ego needed it to come easily. I don't know why, it sounds so ridiculous looking at it now, but I wanted to appear to the world as if I had succeeded without ever really trying.

I wanted to be good. Worthy. A little bit impressive.

I didn't want to be honest about my journey. I think because I didn't want to appear to fail.

I had imagined myself so isolated. Like if I were to fail, I would be the only one.

As time goes on, my life feels less and less honest. I wanted to show the world the glory without the struggle. The sweetness without the sorrow. The accomplishment without all the accompanying pain and bleeding and sweating uphill in the mud with my armor tied around my waist.

Now I need to say it: this is not coming easily.

This is a tremendous struggle.


Being a writer depends to a great degree on outside approval. You can write all you want, you can even call yourself a writer, but the world will not consider you one until you have bewitched the correct combinations of people: first an agent, then an editor. I write in a bubble, pretending no one is ever going to see it (because that is the only way I can write honestly), and then I take it to a world of people, in New York and LA, people who don't know me, who are busily wrapped in their own lives, who have heard it all before. I have to offer up my flawed creation, this thing that I have sweated and bled over, that is a reflection of my very soul, of my most private and deep beliefs, and wait for them to approve it.

It's hard.

But what's harder is not being honest about it. What's harder is hiding away in the dark, hoping not to show my many imperfections. Hoping that one day I can bound out shining a light so bright, you too will be bewitched. You too will miss all my weaknesses. And then I rob us both of the truth. I rob us both of the thing it is most important to name: the honesty of the story.

How happy is an ending, after all, if you haven't witnessed all the long trials that led up to it?

I have a sneaking suspicion it was already clear I'm not the best. No so impressive, maybe. But last night, I sat in a hot bath talking myself down off another ledge of another rejection. Revelation came, as it so often does, with a combination of hot water and tears: I wasn't going to do this publishing thing effortlessly. And in my ego's need to appear to achieve without effort, I was hurting the people around me.

And I was hurting my soul.


So here I am. Fresh off the press of another confounding rejection letter. These agents, they are mystifying. They are the modern world's version of the Oracle of Delphi, only they make even less sense. This publishing thing, it might take years. Seven or seventy. Publishing is a long game. Once a day I want to give it up.

I'm not giving it up.

Forgive me for the indulgence, but I need to say this:

I'm back in black.


Either blogger isbuggy as heck today, or the universe conspires to illumine all my flaws. Forgive my text size discrepancies. I've spent ten minutes trying to fix them and frankly, I've got other stories to write.




  1. Bravo Britt! Keep on fighting the good fight! .. Dad

  2. You're a brilliant writer. Published or not. I'm so proud of you :)

  3. Thanks guys. My family reads my blog. Take that, agent suckers!

  4. I feel like I probably understand your struggle more than most. I feel the same way on a daily basis. I ask myself - does my book even matter if I don't get published? If I don't get PAID? I thought getting an agent would solve all my dreams in one fell swoop. It didn't. My agent fell very ill and took a leave of absence. I was passed to the head of the agency, which was thrilling at first, but then I realized that meant that I was very low on his list of priorities, when my previous agent had really loved and believed in my work. It was a Catch 22. My book is still out on submission and has been since JUNE. I've had 11 rejections, from editors - which is even worse than agent rejections, because they say things like "I found Elly to be pathetic." - or, they are coyly hopeful: "I would love to read something ELSE from this writer." Well thanks, I'll get right on that. My book is tied to my self-esteem right now in an unhealthy way. That I totally get. Every sentence of this blog, I have felt. We really should have coffee sometime and whine about our unnoticed brilliance.

  5. More than your family reads your blog and I would be more than happy to read anything you've written.
    You are such an inspiration to me and in becoming the woman I hope to be one day.
    My sister is also a writter and has had her share of rejection and you two are both so specl, it will happen
    You are in my prayer (cuz I'm Mormon ya know? lol) love you!

  6. "I wanted to be good. Worthy. A little bit impressive." You are all of this, and SO much more. I really appreciate your honesty in this blog (and in others you've written, as well). Do you know that it actually takes a great deal of confidence and security in who you are to lay your soul bare, as you have?
    As H said, you ARE a brilliant writer, and I KNOW that it's just a matter of time. So keep on doin' what you do best, and know that those of us who have read (some of) your work ABSOLUTELY believe in you. As even Gma said, "I know it's not a matter of *if* Britt will be published, it's just a matter of *when*.



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