by Sarah Nash
(Former TVFH Managing Editor for Fiction)
"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing about." - Benjamin Franklin
The task of wrestling with words has been a passionate, frustrating and occasionally rewarding mission most of my life. I didn't decide or make a conscious choice to become a word wizard, it is an inherent talent I take for granted. The shelves in my personal office are permanently bowed with the weight of four decades of my words collected in notebooks; each one threatening to become the next "great novel" of the century.
Rejection letters from pompous, ignorant editors who did not get the memo regarding my superior skills as an author are in some of those notebooks, spooning the manuscripts that were certainly unread and discarded by these unfortunate souls. Personal notes from some of these editors accompany a few returned manuscripts with their small apologies and worthless suggestions outlining their obvious disregard for my brand of genius. Their gall stunned me. The sheer audacity of these impudent, uninformed, talentless bobble heads was bewildering. To hell with them! I would produce my own literary marvel and invite submissions from the Jilted Genius crew of outstanding authors like myself! This endeavor became The Hiss Quarterly, an icon of fabulous distinction in the new world of internet publishing over ten years ago. I had the good fortune to have intelligent, talented and dedicated editorial companions who stood with me when I joined the soul-less tribe of talentless bobble heads and wrote my first rejection letter.
When our brand dissolved six years later and joined with "The View From Here" I believed that I was quite possibly the last short story/ poetry editor on the planet who read every submission and refrained from judgmental, knee-jerk reactions prompting me to hit the delete button. My integrity would not be compromised; however my faith in humanity became a vague memory and rumors of my voluntary dedication nearly killing me are true. Those of us producing and editing literary collections without a salary, trust fund or some source of reliable income are more than likely clinically insane masochistic reverse narcissists who enjoy eating shards of glass as a hobby. What other explanation is there?
At that time my purpose in life was to give authors -- with or without a pedigree-- hope, renew their faith and hold them to a high standard of quality without the soul crushing experience of apathetic, canned rejections. Although, as the reputation of our digital, eclectic haven became infallible, my personal self worth was inexplicably diminished. Editorial work is a huge commitment to excellence. Altruistic editorial work is often a thankless beast of burden riding shotgun to the previous commitment of excellence and a labor of divine love. While nothing could have prepared me for "the other side of the desk" and the experience remains at the top of my list for developing my compassionate nature, it occurred to me that I had not written much of substance or value during my editorial tenure.
I had effectively become a "shadow artist" and in spite of all the encouragement, creative freedom and generous emotional support of Mike French -- the guts and glory behind "The View From Here" -- I had to reassess my purpose in life. It was time to refresh the memories of those arrogant bobble heads who had the gall to decide who was accepted in other realms of publishing. What editor could deny my ineffable gift as an author now? My ability to woo and charm while exceeding all expectations or previous submissions from lesser mortals could not be challenged!
Life happens when you're busy making other plans, and it just so happened that life has not stopped happening long enough for me to write the greatest thing you will ever read. Another dilemma seems to be that my inner editor isn't nearly as compassionate as I'd like her to be. She sends me canned responses telling me that "after careful consideration" my work isn't a good fit, but that I'm welcome to submit again. Occasional notes stapled to the reviewed work are annoying and clearly sophomoric attempts to bewilder me, or undermine my genius. It has inspired me to write a piece on how I am no longer my own worst enemy; it's guaranteed to be memorable, good reading in spite of being non-fiction. Stay tuned in to literary news and opinions for a glimpse of me out there even though the view from here was better.
In gratitude and grace, for Mike French & TVFH
Be The Best.
Distract your inner critic and hit "submit" while that arrogant bobble head isn't paying attention.
Photo credit: Andrew Magill
by Sarah Nash