Friends Don't Let Friends Publish Acclaimless
I was shocked when my first story was published and not one of my friends bought a copy of the issue of “This Magazine” that it appeared in. I think if I was in a play or performing in club they would have come. I know they would. I’ve performed in plays and played piano in clubs and friends do come out. It’s an event! They put it on their calendar and they come and they drink and chat. There’s something bellsless and whistleless about publishing I guess. It’s not dramatic. The magazine sits on the stand and you can pick it up at any time, so you don’t. You go by yourself to a newsstand, so you don’t. You can’t order a beer at a bookstore but you can have a coffee with your purchased item, so you don’t. I know. I’ve learned by now that nobody I love will pick up a copy and read my stories. I’ve had four and nothing’s changed.
For me, the writer, getting that first story published was one of the most dramatic moments of my life. I was so excited! The amount of work it represented, time-wise and emotion-wise was so intense. The vote of confidence that it represented towards something that was so close to my heart was so affirming. The lack of congratulatory fanfare seemed even more striking. Like I’d done a full Busby Berkley routine in the mall, with orchestra and dancing girls, and no one had given it a glance.
My latest work is a novella I’ve been working on for almost two decades. The original story about my sister’s first period was the first thing I ever wrote. I was in university. Material has gathered around this event (not a true story—I know absolutely nothing about my actual sister’s actual first period—I assume she’s had one—we are both in our forties now) from all aspects of my existence. Autobiographical bits, things I’ve imagined, things I’ve heard friends talk about, things I’ve stolen—sorry, homage-ed—from other works of art, things that have grown up organically between the bits. And now it’s this massive thing. The care I’ve lauded over one particular sentence is almost embarrassing.
And now, it’s out. Will you pick up a copy? The Malahat Review, Summer 2008, No. 163! I’ll be your friend.