|Yes, that is me and poet, Terrance Hayes.|
I was so young, newly mfa'd and ready to be the writer.
This journey started many years ago. After completing my mfa in writing, I set out to find an agent. I wrote a query for Through Eyes Like Mine, researched agents and agencies and sent out a dozen queries. I landed with Judy Heiblum at Brick House Literary Agents in 2006. She believed in my book, sent me wonderful edits, and then, just before sending my manuscript out, she moved to Sterling Lord Literistic, a big New York agency. My book was passed on by lots of editors at big houses. But the book didn't move, and Judy didn't see my next book, Overdue Apologies, as different enough that it would get picked up. My manuscripts quietly gathered digital dust on various computer hard drives.
I spent a couple of years teaching, started blogging, and spent the next few years of my post-mfa-life teaching and trying to start a family. In 2009, I finished up NaNoWriMo and was walking my students through the self-publishing process. That was when I realized, I could do this. It wasn't all that hard to put a book together and get it out into the world. I enjoyed designing covers, working with writer-friends who are great editors, and let my agent know I was going to self-publish Through Eyes Like Mine in 2010. She wished me luck, and I launched the book in Bend and Portland with readings and signings. It felt like a wonderful way to get my book in people's hands and onto shelves. It opened up readings at museums and in classrooms and at book clubs, but it was a lot of work.
Three years later, in 2012, just before Kiara was born, when I knew motherhood could put writing on pause for a while, I quickly and quietly self-published Overdue Apologies. I didn't schedule a book launch or readings or signings. I didn't have the time or energy as a new mother. But the book was out there and done.
It wasn't for another four years that I would connect with Women Who Submit, a group of LA writers who encourage submitting work to counter underrepresentation of women in literary spaces. That's when I started submitting. Since July of 2016, I've submitted to 106 journals, contests, presses, residencies, and agents. I've published or have forthcoming 16 pieces (poems, essays, excerpts) since then, was shortlisted for the 2040 Prize, and a request for a book proposal for Dispatches from a High School Feminist: Rising Up from Rural Oregon. For now, I'm trying to go traditional with this next book, but if things don't move, I'm not afraid to give it another go on my own.
Thanks to all of you for following this journey, for reading my books blogs. I know it doesn't seem like it's still the beginning, but as a writer, I'm working on building to emerging.