I received a publication notice yesterday for a piece of fiction. The editor must have liked it because I sent this piece only last week. This is a coincidence, but something so small can make or break your writing habits. I spent yesterday excited about my projects after a long stretch of feeling very blah about them. Suddenly, the markets I had singled out this month in my submission process had meaning again.
Part of the problem is that many of my publications are artwork and poems, which makes the prose part of the trio seem the weakest. This is for two reasons: first, I am more selective about the fiction markets I submit to than the poetry ones, and, second, most lit mags are art-starved because many artists don't know how to submit to them. However, I have been in a creative slump in all areas, but, as I wrote recently, I think the fog is clearing and that I am in for a long period of productivity.
Once, I was asked how many years it took for grief to go by, and I responded that it had been six years between Elizabeth, my first cat, running away and adopting Timmy, our new family cat. Timmy is alive and well, but Tango, the Bengal rescue cat we loved so much, passed away a bit over a year ago. Although he was old when we adopted him, he deserved the best life we could give him, and more of it in my opinion.
Pets are a strange subject to write about because they are both an eminent commonality and very proprietary. You risk adhering to the familiar and sentimental or boring your audience. I wanted to publish work about Tango; I wanted to prove that I could memorialize him in that way.
A while back, I wrote a blog post about list poems. I was experimenting with new forms, and that's how I won an honorable mention in the Binnacle's Ultra Short Contest this year for cat: a google search. Although I marketed it for the contest as poetry, it is nonfiction: a list of terms in my search history, curated over a year of owning a wonderful Bengal cat.
Why did this idea stand out? Well, after Tango's death it was hard for me to browse the web on my computer or ipad because I had spent a year googling cat terms including a lot of items towards the end of his life. Thanks to Google's autocomplete feature, which says, "Hey, you're searching for something that starts with 'ca'--let me suggest some things!" I couldn't look up anything, and I didn't want to clear my search history either. That, right there, is what grief is.