Non-fiction Saturdays

I Am Saving My Tears For Something Else

I Challenged Fear And It Fought Back, But I Still Won.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels

At the tail-end of last year and the beginning of this year, I challenged fear. I told myself, “You will submit your work to prominent literary magazines, online journals, and poetry hosting sites. You can and you will.” I did this. I stepped out of my reserved comfort zone and decided to dive into the shaky waters of the publishing world again. I found out three things: I am a “polished writer,” I have what it takes, but my “work isn’t quite what we’re looking for at the moment,” and I have a “unique voice, distinctive, however, the work submitted is just not a good fit” for this magazine.

I also found out that my poetry, although denied by a couple of literary journals is hosted far more than my essays and non-fiction work. Because I made the decision to submit my work once again for consideration to several entities, three of my poems have been published. I would be lying if I said I was not elated by this, but poetry does not draw in the big bucks.

I have a goal set for myself and that goal is to write one to three articles that will turn heads, make eyes water, become key pieces of conversations for years to come, and warrant a decent amount of money with each article published. I want to do this in hopes of having writing become closer to a full-time profession for me in the near future. Even if I do not succeed in having it take over as my main source of income, I want to at least decrease my normal full-time work-week by four hours each day.

On average, with some of the big-name magazines and online journals, a writer is paid $0.50 to $1.00 per word submitted. If those articles are anywhere from nine to sixteen hundred words, a significant payout would be issued.

Two of my essays were denied by a prominent partnered publication here on Medium. I love this particular magazine. I read it religiously. I see what is published and my work falls in line with most of the articles there, so I am not submitting and have not submitted something that does not meet their requirements.

After receiving both rejection letters, I started to question myself — my ability as a long-form writer. The first question was, “Am I losing my spark?” The second question was, “Is my work not likable enough for even a chance at being published in this magazine?” I sat with those questions and I worried over them.

It was easy to slip — I almost fell . . .

I came close to finding myself back in the grimy holes of depression because I felt unworthy and unheard. I wondered more than I probably should have about whether or not my work was actually read or if my profile and credentials were reviewed and considered. I mourned the rejections, tweaked both articles, and self-published them here to Medium. I refused to let any tears fall that welled up in my eyes over my hard work and tireless efforts.

I came close to finding myself back in the grimy holes of depression because I felt unworthy and unheard.


Photo by Dominika Roseclay via Pexels

“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” — Marquis de Condorcet

I mindlessly started comparing my writing to the works of others that were published. I skimmed and scanned them, read and re-read them, and tried to pinpoint where I was going wrong with my own submitted articles. Then, I remembered — I am my own person. I have my own voice. And I thought . . .

You just need to get louder but do so with class.

I remembered that I should also not take it personally, but when you spend a significant amount of your downtime fine-tuning and editing your work, then sending the drafts to your editing and journalist friends for their notes and tips, it is hard not to take a rejection personally. Add to this the fact that you “stepped out on faith” and “took a chance” and challenged fear, the blows hit a little harder than they should.

I opened up my mind and heart and I asked myself, “Is it the rejections or is it who your work is being rejected by?” I decided that I was bothered so badly by these two rejections because of who bore the rejections. When there is an opportunity to possibly have one’s work hosted by a major publishing brand, the excitement that comes with submitting is indescribable. The natural high for me at that time, cannot be explained — not in common words.

As I stated in an earlier article, I am being gentle with myself. I did exactly what I planned to do and in the process, did have some work published. I challenged my fear of reaching out to publishers and even though a couple of them has knocked me down, I have not been knocked out.

I will save my tears for something bigger — something heavier-hitting. I won’t waste them on things outside of my control. I keep telling myself this. I have been trying to make it my personal mantra for a few months now.

“Is it the rejections or is it who your work is being rejected by?”

I do plan to continue submitting other essays to a few different entities. I still feel as though I have much more fight left in me and that an article of mine could be picked up sooner than later. I am claiming it. I believe it. I am not a person who backs down all too easily, but I do know when my steps have been ordered and when a break is necessary.

Fear will not hold me back — neither will rejection.


“I believe that my skill at taking ordinary words and using them to provoke thought or stir emotion is a divine gift that I should utilize more often, if not for profit, then to free my spirit.” — Darryl Brown


Originally published in CRY via Medium.

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fixer-upper


fixer-upper

flash fiction

Photo by Rodolfo Mari via Unsplash

“That old piece of junk! Man, it doesn’t even have windshield wipers! What’re you gonna do with that pile of crap, Core?!”

Corey hears his big brother’s words echoing in his ears throughout his school-day and he finally tells himself that he will quell Nate’s voice once and for all. He is going to buy that old Chevy from Mr. Bankman, fix her up, and name her “Judy.” “Pretty Judy . . .” He has been saying this in his head for the last three days. “Pretty Judy.”

Judy needs plenty of love and care: new tires, new windshield wipers, a new engine, spark plugs, front and rear-end alignment, an alternator & starter, and a bit of bodywork, and paint. Corey has been working with his dad at “Cruz & Cars,” their family mechanic shop after school and on the weekends, so he knows a thing or two about building a broken down vehicle back up to a recognizable and suitable state.

He is ready.

Midnight blue — that’s the shade he has chosen to paint Judy. He is even thinking about putting whitewall tires on her too. His mind is racing with all the things he’ll do for Judy to get her ready for their senior dance which is six months away. Phaedra, the Jamaican beauty in his Chemistry and Literary Arts classes, would love him, he thought. He plans to ask her out. Nate’s voice rings loudly in his ears again. He cannot avoid it.

“Yeah, so . . . You fix her up and then what? You think Phaedra gonna like you just cuz you’ll be pulling up in some big-body ’78 Chevy truck painted midnight blue? Man, you can’t even sit two seats away from her without sweating. And, Judy?! You’re gonna put all that hard work into that truck only to name it Judy?! Ay Dios Mio. Kiddo, you’ve got a lot to learn and I’m gon’ learn ya.”

Corey sits in Chemistry class, two seats away from Phaedra. He takes brief moments to steal a glance at her. She is a Goddess, he thinks — something that took so much time to create. Every piece and fragment of her being are well-crafted, she is art in motion. He says a silent prayer. He will ask her to the senior dance. She will say yes. She will say. She will . . .

“Hey, Phaedra. Um, gotta minute?”

“Sure, what’s up, Core?”

“So, the senior dance is coming up and . . .” Corey fidgets with his shirt collar and rubs his sweaty hands together. “I am hoping you don’t already have a date. I mean . . . Would you mind accompanying me to the dance?”

His world shakes a bit as he waits for her to respond. He wipes his brow, takes in a long, deep breath, and blinks twice to make sure he is not dreaming. She opens her mouth and an angel speaks, “Sure. Why not!”

After school, Corey races to his dad’s shop and begs him for $800.00. He was short of the $2,100.00 Mr. Bankman quoted him for the Chevy. He tells his dad about Phaedra — about how the sun sits on her eyelids and lights up the world from her view. It only takes his dad three seconds to retrieve the cash from the safe. He is proud of his youngest son — he has a plan and is carrying it out.

“Mijo, escuchame. If she turns your belly and your heart beats ten times faster when you see her. She’s gonna be your first love. Ten cuidado.”

Be careful. He will be.

He buys Judy from Mr. Bankman on a Friday, five months to the date from the senior dance and builds his world around bringing something that is dead back to life. He thinks to himself, “Dad was wrong. Phaedra is not my first love. Judy is.”

And, she was.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

the measure of a distant breath

I won’t hold onto
your words anymore.
in the quiet distance of our hearts,
friendship . . .

the one thing you threw to the wind
is neither cautious nor safe.

I cannot chase an inevitable “no”–
not when I am worthy of

an enviable “yes.”

selfish Gods die by their own hands.
here, let me take off those chains.

Afraid of Healing

Who are we if we don’t know pain? If we don’t grow from it? I had to reblog this because I read it and it hit me and it stuck with me.

Please visit the writer’s blog to comment there, should you want to. Peace.

INTROVERSE

In Their Own Words By Nathan Bond

Afraid to heal my deep wounds

Afraid life will be too simple

Afraid of missing the pain

Afraid I won’t have an excuse to disappear

Afraid I won’t need to scream at the top of my lungs when I’m too weak

Afraid I won’t grow without trauma

Afraid I’ll never be the same

I’m afraid of change

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Non-fiction Saturdays

Online Dating:

I Almost Did It Again

man and woman sitting and laughing
Photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreira via Unsplash

In my mid-twenties, I logged on to an online dating website. If you asked me today, I swear, I couldn’t even tell you which one it was. It proved to be a decent piece of my life at that moment as I matched with a handsome young man who was incredibly intelligent, independent, secure in his job, funny, and respectful. We lasted all of three months. In all honesty, we were unclear as to what we wanted from each other in the beginning. After that third month, I noticed we were good together, compatible. We enjoyed each other’s time, we did jigsaw puzzles together, went to the bookstore, walked in the local parks, etc. We had in-depth, intense, and impressive conversations. However, he did not want anything serious.

I did.

Thus, our end made its way in front of us all too soon. I think about him from time to time. Although we only dated for three months, those were a pretty damn good three months and I smile when I think of them. Every so often, I wonder how he’s doing. If he still lives in the Greensboro area. If he ever got his own business up and running. He was the first guy I dated who kept an immaculate apartment (much like myself) and at that time, I thought it odd as the only young men I’d ever dated, almost never really cleaned house or cooked, let alone had a place that was worth leaving my place for one night or two. He had all these things yet we did not work out.

The more I thought about him, the more I realized–I was dating a male version of myself and today that seems pretty creepy but that’s what it was. It was going to fail and fail hard and fast had it not done so when it did.

But, something pressed upon me a few weeks ago. I have been thinking of saddling up the old horse and getting back on it to give it another go. I did so on Thursday night. I e-trotted over to eHarmony, answered their compatibility questions and guaranteed matching assessment quiz, built a profile, tossed up a few photos, then promptly deleted it. I lost my nerve. The fear that landed itself in my lap was palpitating and real. One moment, I was excited about the possibilities and could not wait to see what my new age and this new year has in store in the land of dating and the next, I was the Cowardly Lion.


women's black leather zip-up jacket
Photo by Naitian (Tony) Wang via Unsplash

I no longer bite my nails, but if I were still doing this, they’d be nubs. Within seconds, an indescribable sense of nervousness overcame me and all I could do and think of was to back out and back off. Before anything could even begin, I shot it down. I did not let it live a life of two to three days.

Nothing.

I told my best friend about this and she said, “It is beginning to concern me of the rate in which you’re letting fear prevent you from doing certain things. What’s the worst that could happen?” And I instantly thought, “Well, the worst that could happen.” I did not tell her this, though. She can overcome fear within seconds–she just does whatever it is she wants to do. If it needs questioning later, it’s questioned. But, I overanalyze things and create a small place in which I dare not go and this is what keeps me from doing many of the things I set out to do.

Last year, I overcame several of my fears and I am learning to be gentle with myself about the things that need work–about the things for which I still have mounds of hesitation in my spirit. I won’t rush things, but I am planning on not remaining in the bowels of the unknown for too long either. I know what I want. I know who I’d like to have these things with, but I am still unsure if I want long-term or dating only. I believe the last thought makes itself known within the first few weeks of dating someone. From what I recall, one can usually tell after two to three dates if one surely wants to keep spending time with the person one is dating.

According to a few statistics compiled by eHarmony,

“Female users aren’t just looking for hook-ups . . . Only 33% of women who use online dating websites say they have sex on the first online dating encounter, and 60% of female Tinder users say they are looking for a match, not just a hookup.”

This is good information to know as I am surely not just looking for a hook-up. This next statistic is intriguing and gives me a little hope about the way the dating world does things mostly now:

“Online dating statistics show that 20% of those in current, committed relationships began online and 7% of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website.”

I know at least four couples who met their mates online and they are still together, three of those four couples are married. That says a lot, don’t you think? But, the older I get, the more I know/feel I do not want to be married. This is my now. Who’s to say what I may feel like or know deep in my bones one to three years from now.

So, I almost gave online dating a try again. I was so close. If I were to give myself another pep talk, build myself up to a place of belief that perhaps, a committed relationship could flourish for me too, there is no telling where my mind will lead me. But, will I stick it out, though? I guess there’s only one thing to do in order to know . . .

I still fear it just a bit. Just a tiny bit.