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Poor Old Me

What am I anyway? A hair on the left hindleg of a microscopic mite, a single speck of plankton in an ocean upwelling fifteen miles long.

No one, niemand, nada, nichts.

Yes folks, welcome to my own private pity party, a regular nobody-likes-me-I-guess-I’ll-go-eat worms affair.

Ach Rebeccah, why so glum? Dunno. Maybe it’s the birthday blues 71 days too early.

Maybe it’s the eve of a Berlin winter, when it’s already dusk at 4:30 in the afternoon, when sleet and ice and snow are a daily affair, when the sun disappears behind an unmoving blanket of gray and won’t come back until April, if we’re lucky that is.

Maybe it’s the results I got from Sixfold this morning on a story I thought had a good chance at being in the top ten, the stories that get published, but it came in number 49. 49 out of 287. The top 30 percent, kids. Chisel it on my tombstone.

But what is this getting published business anyway? Sometimes it feels like an El Dorado quest. Here I am, a no one in Berlin, submitting stories and essays that first have to find their way past a 21-year-old intern drowning in submissions, reading so many her eyes are about to fall out of her head. Do I blame her? No. Do I wish I had some crony, some former roommate at Cornell with literary world connections, some published pal who could show me the ropes if there even are any? Sometimes, sure.

But the real question is why do I even want to be published in the first place?

For fame? Yeah, right.

For money? Please, don’t make me laugh.

I want to be published because it would mean I get to take part in the conversation, at least in some small way. Yes, I try not to take them too seriously and yes, I know they’re part of the game, but each rejection reminds me I’m still stuck here just talking to myself in the mirror.

But, winter be damned, it’s not all bad. I got some useful feedback on the story I submitted to Sixfold. Although I like the story a lot, I wondered if the German I sometimes used would be too off putting; I worried it was maybe a touch too sentimental. But the feedback I got pointed to another aspect of the story, the fact that it contains parellel narratives, two stories in one if you will. This I did on purpose and I thought how I linked them worked, but maybe it doesn’t. I’ll take a closer look, rethink things and give it another shot.

I still have nine submissions out there, 3 stories and 2 essays. Maybe one of them will be that one percent that gets published, just maybe. If not, I’ll keep sending stuff out because, well, it seems that’s what I do.

Your pal, this certain glutton for punishment, signing off at two minutes to midnight in freezing old Berlin.

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