take my breath away

(a la Betsy Lerner, because reading her blog always makes me feel better)

(image courtesy lucyfrench123)

Lately, every time I come across this word, my heart does a little herky-jerk:  Submission.  As in the thing a writer has to do if she ever wants to get published.  As in laying down and rolling over to expose your tender bits.  As in serving yourself up on a silver platter: naked and dripping, with an apple in your mouth.  As in surrender. 

Now I’m rarely one to shy away from losing a little control.  At the party, I’ll always be the one dancing the bossa nova with a bottle of wine.  Sure, I like roller coasters and joy rides and really loud music.  I will inhale deeply.  I will jump. 

But let’s face it: In life if you lift your proverbial skirt you usually get a little something in return, but that’s not how things work in the publishing world.  There, your inquiries will elicit nothing but silence and submissions feel like being held under in a pool of ice.  Sometimes they’ll even charge you a fee and you’ll pay it, like the silly masochist hog-tied and duct-taped to the bed; you’ll get nothing but you’ll say thank you, you’ll remember to smile. 

So here’s a little salute to all the people out there who, like me, are just standing there with your skirt (or your bathrobe) over your head.  Hey, there, my friend!  Looking mighty fine!  You make this look easy!  You have the tenacity and stamina of a pitbull on Viagra and the courage of a kindergarten class on PCP!  Keep it up! 

What price have you paid to play this game?   What’s the one thing you refuse to do? 


By the way, it’s been almost a year since my first post!  I said I’d give it a year, and I’m almost there!


About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. Here’s a chin up to you, Anna. Writing novels seems so much more to me than what I’ve done so far. I can only imagine how much harder it is wait to be accepted, ignored or rejected after so much work.

    I’ve been feeling some of that pain too. I wasn’t good enough twice for Glimmer Train after paying the fees, before I realized that they probably didn’t print my kind of work. (How would I know? I can’t afford the entry fee AND the cost of the magazine/journal.) I’m done with entry fees. Now two not for profit online magazines have had me waiting weeks longer than they said they would, and now I feel like those stories are being held hostage. Am I supposed to write them a note to remind them to break my heart?

    My insult to injury is to spend one more month, to the day, believing that my children’s story for the Cheerios contest is good enough to win. I’m sitting on the pointy end of a pin, trying to keep rigid so I don’t impale myself. No wonder remembering 9/11 and the submission that a stuck window represented, could send me over the edge. But I have my Stepford smile back and my determinedly positive thinking to keep my spirits up while I wait with my own undies showing. I think I would actually go so far as to let down the panties if a publisher actually said I was pretty and asked for a little date. There I said it. I’m not proud but it’s true. I don’t think I would change my writing style for them, definitely not my principles of right and wrong, but those are more important than a little embarrASSment.

    I’m sure that wasn’t as funny as I thought it was, so try this: When I asked my brilliant daughter what she thought of my first draft for Cheerios, she pointed out all the awful flaws in it that needed fixing, and a few hours later e-mailed me a story for the contest that she had just written herself. It only needed one little thing changed to make it perfect. One little phrase. It’s better than the one I struggled for weeks to fix. (Well maybe just as good.) So now my dream is that I win first prize and she win second, but only because she has so many talents that people can see, and I only seem to have this one. I think I need it more. (There’s a heck of a story in that. But I think it could kill me to write it.)

    I can’t help it, Anna, I really do think we’re going to be okay. I see us being discovered, each in our own way, once we have enough of this underdog material to make them ooh and ahh when we make it to the talk shows on our book tours. I hope you’ll believe it with me.

  2. 1. Never mind the picture (though that’s nice, too), I want to be alone with this post and the images it conjures up.
    2. Anna and Sparks both, please don’t quit blogging ever, or give up on trying to get published; you are both too enjoyable.
    3. Sparksinshadow, I don’t know if I could handle it if I thought my daughter was better than I am at the one artistic thing that I’m sometimes halfway decent at–writing. If your’s is as good as you, she must be pretty good. At 7, my little girl already has more art talent than I ever had.
    4. What would I never do? Pay to submit writing to someone, I suppose, because I would hate to not be chosen a winner after putting out money, when my ego is fragile enough already. (Though I think I did pay a small amount to enter a poem in a contest many years ago, but I haven’t really ever had any delusions about my poetry-writing abilities–I flat-out have none.)
    5. “A kindergarten class on PCP”–heaven help us all.

    • TTD, your very kind and understanding words have just made me cry. Thanks for being so sweet.

      • He is sweet, isn’t he? Thanks. TTD, I can always count on you. Especially when I throw in some sexy stuff. Shall we call this serving the professor up like a tart? She seems to get a lot more attention this way (and insert here all the stuff about good vs. bad attention). I have not paid (yet) to submit, but who knows what will happen.

  3. I once went to a writing and meditation workshop for people of color, and the teachers told us something they’d heard from another teacher: “NEVER SUBMIT! NEVER SUBMIT!” The idea wasn’t to withhold our work, but just not to think of it as submission, which is of course something POC have had to do much too often. I love that. I never use the words submission or submit, if I can help it.

    Love to you and Ré and everyone writing earnestly out in the world!

  4. The thought of you giving up on your dreams is so sad and depressing. Maybe that’s not what you wanted to convey. I’m also disturbed by the metaphor…….showing a little sex-appeal to get noticed. I do, however, sympathise with you. I can urge you to believe and hang in there and not to sell your soul. Success is often persistence. But it’s hard to keep going when you don’t get the recognition. I know that. We all have an ego that thrives on being stroked – though some egos are bigger than others, of course. And it’s natural to want and need that pat on the back.

    Let me counter your Sex Pistols with the Good ‘Ol Grateful Dead ( a band who ploughed their on furrow if ever there was one)…………”Without love in the dream it’ll never come true….” Keep loving what you do and don’t stop.

    • I agree and I too am disturbed by the metaphor. Thought twice before clicking publish but figured, hell, I guess sometimes I am disturbing. Disturbed? Thanks for that Grateful Dead– a perfect antidote!

  5. Oh, Sparks, you always know what to say! You had me giggling good. Funny, I didn’t know how bitter I sounded until I read your response, then I re-read my post and thought, hey now, it’s not that bad; hey now, get away from that ledge! Funny how trying to be funny often ends up wrong (as many depressed comics can attest).

    Stepford smile! YES! Embarassssment sums it all up perfectly. (And I completely agree with all Trailertrash has to say about that daughter thing. Nothing compares to you, Sparks! Or should I say that nothing compares to you except your daughter, and I’m sure she shows the world where she got it from.)

  6. I like the metaphor of you standing there with your skirt held aloft and your knickers on full view for the publishing world to see – it made me chuckle. Why would you give up? You’re a writer and so you write and ( well read ) people like me, sat in my kitchen in Bristol, England soak up your stories happily and look forward to the next one. Go Girl, as you Americans say.

    • Yes, that’s exactly how it feels to me sometimes. All I can hope for is that I’m wearing my best underwear! But I would never stop writing because I can’t stop myself–but who knows about all the other stuff? Certainly not me.

  7. Love Sex Pistols metaphor! kinky, hot and intelligent with a bit of class as oppose to being crass and uncouth. I hope that I can write a sexual metaphor just as well – one possessing relevant content- without showing my age.

  8. Well, clearly this metaphor works for me in the most literal sense. I’ve sacrificed my pride, discretion, privacy, fantasy life. My past, my relationships, and all my vices are written on my skivvies–and my skirt is, as you say, over my head.

    What would I refuse to do? Put on a coat.

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