Veronique Darwin

Not Quite Ready to be Forwarded to an Editor

In Literary Events on October 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm

I’m trying a thing where I send out short stories to people at literary magazines and contests and they send me back (in their minds) the message above. And I go, that’s great, thanks, I’m not ready either! And we are all in agreement and then I cry a little bit and think to myself “If only, if only,” THEN I’ll quit my day job, as though getting one short story published is the start to a burgeoning literary career, though it is, in a way, or at least it’s closer than a lot of other things.

I’m writing sad little stories about sad people saying sharp, quick-witted things to each other in different ill-described settings. I began to read the short stories of Lorrie Moore and Mavis Gallant and Miranda July recently and this seems to be what I like, so why not? The saddest story about the saddest, quick-witted lady, who is maybe mid-thirties and undergone a divorce? That is the feel of the story that is on the tip of my burgeoning fingertips. It is the story that is Not Quite Ready to be Forwarded to an Editor.

I have also begun taking baths, unsuccessfully preparing a fire in the wood stove and voraciously reading articles in which I am not interested in The New Yorker, as though the articles are vacuums and I a piece of dust. It sounds idyllic, no? It is idyllic, because in reality those things I do (bath, fire, New Yorker) are in my spare moments, which are fractionally one forty eighth of my day. The rest is volleyball practice, marking, reading about photosynthesis, listening to children slash young adults, shouting about expectations, running up and down stairs and adding paper into the photocopy machine because I seem to be the only person that does that. So the bath thing? That isn’t often. But that is me. The bath thing, the fire thing, the New Yorker vacuum thing: that is me, living my life. The teaching thing, that is a great thing, but that is not me, that is not me living my life.

I kind of have to say that to myself to keep myself alive. Because I am working so many hours in a day that I don’t want to tell it to you because I can remember when I worked at Crema and I counted out an eight hour day and measured how that was one third of my life, how every day I was spending one third of my life serving different people the same thing over and over again and THAT was depressing to me then. So don’t make me count the hours. Because I will and it will be like, fifteen, and then my stories, they will get sadder, and the women older, and the divorces more numerous and the things they say less witty, but not on purpose.

This blog, I reckon, Not Quite Ready to be Forwarded to an Editor. But I am not either. So.

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