Worth 1000 words

Whether it inspires a story or just serves to make your day more interesting, here’s an image to start your morning with:

Guaita Fortress, San Marino

Almost

When I first started writing, I was eager for any sign that my work was bubbling up out of the slush pile, that it was catching someone’s interest, that it didn’t suck, that I should keep working.

Coming from a background in academia, I’m pretty inured to rejection and comfortable with the concept of perseverance.  So, I’m not the type to dwell on the negative, but to learn from it and move forward.  I’ve continued to try to improve, seeking out workshops and the perspectives of others.  I’ve written as much and as often as I can.  I’ve listened to feedback and instruction.

And it’s paid off.  I’ve improved.  The stories I tell are more interesting now than they were a few years ago and I’m doing a better job telling them.

In the last few months, I’ve started getting personalized short story rejections.  The kind that include several paragraphs discussing what worked and didn’t.  The kind that say ‘we loved x, y, and z, but ultimately decided to pass’ or ‘your story made our final round but, much as we enjoyed it, we chose something else’.

I’ve gone from hearing a resounding silence in response to my novel queries to getting partial requests and full requests.  My writing groups are giving me positive feedback on current projects.  It’s all heading in the right direction and I have no intention of giving up now — not when I feel like I’m actually starting to get so close.

But, damn.  You know, “I loved this, but no thanks” is still no.  And “almost” isn’t yes.

I know I have it in me to succeed.  Frankly, even if I were terrible at it, I’d still keep writing because I love the crazy, maddening, puzzling art of it.  And I know that beyond the land of “yes” lies more “no” and plenty of “almost”.  I get that.  Hell, I published my first short story over a year ago.  So, yeah.  I get it.  But god do I want to hear another YES sometime soon.

For now, though, I’m going to remind myself that a few years ago I’d have been over the moon to have achieved “almost”.  I choose to keep my spirits up, my projects moving forward, and my fingers crossed for a little good fortune.

Worth 1000 words

Whether it inspires a story or just serves to make your day more interesting, here’s an image to start the morning with:

Mount Cangyan, Hebei, China

Stranger than fiction: Gobekli Tepe

One of the oldest surviving theories about the emergence of civilization is V. Gordon’s Childe’s Neolithic Revolution, in which the invention of agriculture (around 9,000 years ago) gave rise to all that we recognize as “civilized” – villages, writing, cities, and organized religion.  While Childe wasn’t wrong about the big picture (agriculture was a revolutionary thing for human societies), recent discoveries from the Middle East and elsewhere have shown that he didn’t have the details quite right.

In particular, towns seem to have come before the invention of agriculture in the Middle East…and organized religion may have predated them both.

Pillars at the temple of Göbekli Tepe

The site of Göbekli Tepe, Turkey, has revealed itself as a possible religious pilgrimage site – one without evidence of residential occupation and predating the rise of most villages in the region.  A spectacular arrangement of elaborately carved standing stones, the site is the oldest known example of monumental architecture.  The stones comprising the open-air temple were quarried some distance away and carved with a wild assortment of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars.

The excavators speculate that construction, use, and worship at the site may have prompted scattered, semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to begin to organize themselves and come together to built the region’s first permanent villages — all hundreds of years before they domesticated their first plant or animal.

Get thee to the capital: Madrid

Right now the hubs and I are sitting on the train watching the Spanish countryside fly by.  In a few hours, we’ll arrive at Atocha station in Madrid and the last phase of our holiday will begin.  This is sad because it’s the last few days of the trip.  But it’s happy too, as Madrid is a favorite city of mine.

Madrid is a fun city to wander in, and that is exactly what we plan to do, exploring historic neighborhoods, snoozing in the shade at Buen Retiro park, eating in tapas bars, and (of course) visiting some of the city’s incredible museums:

     

Our holiday ends on Sunday, when we troop back to the Madrid airport and fly home to New York.  Hopefully the break will invigorate me for a summer of non-stop writing 🙂

Llegada Granada

After four days of imitating sloths in Mallorca, the hubs and I are ready for some sightseeing.  Up first, two nights in Granada.  The lure here, of course, is the Alhambra:

…an incredible complex of palaces, gardens, and fortresses in Andalusia.  The site was built first by the Moors and later taken over and added to by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.  We plan to spend most of our time in Granada here and are touring the palace at night and gardens during the day.

On Thursday we hop the train up to Madrid to finish our trip with several days of museums, exploring, and grazing at every tapas bar in the city.