Archive Tag:not a drabble

Drabble 43 – Cecaelia

Tentacle by Joey Gannon

I’ve already talked about how the ocean is big and scary and packed full of terrifying creatures. Even so, I like it. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, poking at random animals in tide pools and imagining all the things that might live out beneath the waves.

If there’s one kind of monster I’m willing to believe in, it’s sea monsters. Look at the things we know for certain live in the ocean–angler fish, goblin sharks, giant squid–it’s not exactly a friendly place down there, whatever The Little Mermaid would have us believe.

This isn’t a hundred-word story. It started out as a hundred-word poem in ballad meter, but it’s not that anymore either. It’s a sea shanty, because, in my humble opinion, there just aren’t enough sea shanties anymore. It’s also available in the Tides issue of AU, so you should check that out and support my old speculative fiction magazine. There are some very, very talented writers in there. And me.

Anyway, here’s a poem.

Important Work and Imposter Syndrome

Important Work

I don’t know if it’s just me, but being asked what I do is a source of unrepentant dread.

I write. I write here and I write on a couple of different websites, including Women Write About Comics, which you should be reading. I also do a podcast on geek culture. When I tell people these things, they always want to know what they’re about.

And I appreciate that enthusiasm and interest, but I can never seem to find a good answer. As much as nerdy stuff is popular right now, saying I take it seriously enough to critique it still feels like I’m asking to be shoved in a locker. It’s one thing to enjoy, say, Game of Thrones, and it’s another to discuss the implications of lily-white Daenerys’ subjects all being poor brown folks, right? Like, who cares? It’s a television show. Can’t we just turn off our brains and stop being offended by things for two minutes?

(No. Well, yes, but I believe the question is not can we, but should we. I’ll get there.)

And the writing–more than once, I’ve had the reception to my answer of “fantasy” for what I write about be…less than enthusiastic. It has put me in more than one uncomfortable position where I wriggle around in my seat and try to dodge the question to avoid the stares of well-meaning but skeptical family members.

Which inevitably leads me down a sad and well-populated road full of questions–most important, does what I do matter?

Blackberry Picking and Poetry Appreciating

Image Source: Jared Smith via Flickr.

Poetry and I have a contentious relationship.

It’s not that I don’t like poetry. I do. I think I do. No, I do, for sure. I’m not sure I like writing it, but I’m blaming that entirely on my public school education and not poetry itself.

The problem is this: poetry, to me, is some kind of ethereal, ever-changing thing that’s alive and incomprehensible, like some kind of wriggling or slippery animal. I think I know a poem when I see one, but then there’s prose poetry. I think I understand a poem but then it’s not about appreciating life at all, it’s about capitalism and overconsumption. Poetry is rhyme and meter except that it isn’t, not at all.

An Introduction, By Way of Rejection

Starting any new venture requires an introduction. The hard part is that introductions are terrible. If it’s possible to introduce yourself in a way that doesn’t feel forced (aside from, you know, actually reaching out and shaking someone’s hand), I haven’t found it yet.

It’s almost easier to do it in third person, except that when you do that you’re usually writing a bio for something and writing bios is also terrible. You have to achieve the right balance of ‘here are my accomplishments’ with ‘here, look, I’m actually a human being and not just an ego,’ which is a) impossible and b) stressful.

I probably shouldn’t spend an introductory post writing about how much I hate introducing myself, but if there’s one crucial fact to know about me it’s that, while I love talking to people, I’m also shy and awful at doing the introducing. I’m also terrible with both faces and names, so if you know me in person it probably took me at least three meetings to figure out why you looked so familiar.

So instead, I’ll talk a little bit about rejection.

Rejection is hard. I’m a writer; I know rejection. I’ve submitted four times to paying markets and have been rejected three times—the fourth is still up in the air. It stings every time.

Of course rejection stings. When I’m rejected, my mind immediately begins to fill in the reasons. There are many, but they are most easily summed up by me not being good enough. And there are so, so many ways to not be good enough. I lack the experience. I lack the creativity. I lack the talent. I lack, I lack, I lack.

And maybe all of those things are true. Though I have more experience than some people, others have more than me. I might be creative, but sometimes I read the work of others and my brain feels like a shack in the middle of tangled woods in comparison to others’ vast universes. And sometimes people tell me I’m talented but I don’t see it because I read my work knowing all the secrets, where it’s going, how I constructed it. When you’re rejected for something, any positive feedback you’ve ever received sort of melts away into the ether—everyone who has ever said anything nice is lying, deluded, or has bad taste.

Writing this (and presumably reading it, too), it sounds like garbage. Because it is garbage. Yes, some people might be overly nice to spare your feelings. Some people may, in fact, have bad taste. But they aren’t all wrong, which is what I keep trying to tell myself.

It’s incredibly easy to get discouraged when everything you think might possibly be worthy of being read by other people gets rejected. So instead of letting rejection be the proof that I’m a writer (something I only feel comfortable saying because I do write for a living, even if it’s not fiction—another weird notion I need to break), I’ll let my writing speak for itself.

So here’s the plan—a plan that’s been hatching for, oh, over a year or so. I like weird, archaic vocabulary. I like writing. I like etymology. I need to work on describing things. So you get Words, Et Al: a drabble per week based on a weird word. Normal blogs, too, once I figure out what a normal blog is, but the drabbles are required.

Also, if you want an actual introduction, here’s one I wrote recently for a thing:

Melissa Brinks is a freelance writer and podcaster with an affinity for cats, cooking, gardening, and investing copious hours of her life in fictional worlds. She’s been reading since the ripe old age of three, and an intense dislike for the treatment of Susan Pevensie ignited a lifelong desire for better, more interesting female characters. As a social justice cleric and aspiring nice person, Melissa does her best to encourage others to think, read, and consume critically, and in doing so help the world be a kinder place. Melissa lives north of Seattle with two mewling, furry children and her long-suffering husband.

You can also find out more about me on my about page, or by following me on Twitter, or by listening to the podcast I do with my best friend, Fake Geek Girls, in which I giggle about loving fictional characters too much and also talk about like, feminism and stuff. If you want to chat, great! Send me an email or tweet at me; despite being terrible at introductions, I will happily chat away about pretty much anything.

So that’s it. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve left this document open for an hour or so because I don’t know how to properly end a post. If you have tips for ending a post, share them in the comments!

That’s—that’s how you do this, right?