Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Love and writing and pain and goodness

Love hurts. Writing hurts. Rejection hurts. Revisions hurt. Publication hurts.
It is all so painful.
But what is even more painful than the above?
It is silence.
What happens when you have been encouraged and given your best and then... nothing?
The brick wall.
No reply.
No reply.
Argh! You're not going to write to these bastards again.

Oh I know people are busy and busier and you are a humble writer in new uggs in a smelly house in a muddy field...  But I know busy people too. People who are scarily busy on many levels who still manage to connect, or leave a note, or say, Too busy so no thanks but thanks anyways.

Grrr. I hate rudeness. I'm so anti-rude that I always feel I have to be last to close off communication. The last thank you, the last good bye. Is this alarming insecurity or the way I've been brought up?

So what to do when it takes a year to get a reply for a short story ? Give up, move on. Pull out your secretarial hat. Pull out your finger !

I think that's the answer. Man up, Catherine. Back to your desk. If these jerks don't want you, try try try somewhere else. Where people might be more polite.

So what am I doing this week? A crash course in Flannery O'Connor, whose 500pp Collected Works (my pre-loved copy bought from The Society Club, Soho) is sitting gleaming on my desk. From her first wobbly but bold stories, to the well known ones that tear into your psyche.

From the twisted and luminous 'A Good Man is Hard to Find':

Bailey didn't look up from his reading so she wheeled around then and faced the children's mother, a young woman in slacks, whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage and was tied around with a green head-kerchief that had two points on the top like a rabbit's ears. She was sitting on the sofa, feeding the baby his apricots out of a jar.
...The children's mother didn't seem to hear her but the eight-year-old boy, John Wesley, a stocky child with glasses, said, 'If you don't want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at home?' He and the little girl, June Star, were reading the funny papers on the floor.
'She wouldn't stay at home to be queen for a day,' June Star said with raising her yellow head... 'Afraid she'd miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.'
'All right, Miss,' the grandmother said. 'Just remember that the next time you want me to curl your hair.'
June Star said her hair was naturally curly.

You haven't read Flannery? In her short suffering life she wrote more brilliance than most of us will ever touch with a barge pole. Go hunt her down and learn her!


  1. Yeah, the no reply thing is rude. I mean, if you're open to submissions that should mean you're ready to actually answer them. It's just a click or two, for god's sake, not like anyone's got to break out the Selectric and put a stamp on the envelope and run it out to the mailbox.

    1. Yeah.. and sometimes it makes you so blue.
      I don't think I could ever be an evil editor..
      Back to the coal face!

  2. That story is a killer. (ha, just got that unintended joke) We studied it on the MA. Thanks for reminding me about her.

    1. She is brilliant! Today I read one with 'polluted yellow eyes' and another vile fantastic ending. If that makes sense! 'The Heart of the Park'..

  3. LOL Catherine, I know what you mean about being the last one. When do you end an sms exchange, an email exchange or even a comment exchange on a blog? I often keep going and then wonder if I'm driving the other person mad!

    Oh and I need to read more Flannery O'Connor. I think I've only ever read one or two.