Thursday, June 2, 2011

"I Hate Being Poor"

The March sisters (Little Women): "I hate being poor,"  sighed her sister, Meg, looking at her old dress.

Most of the time I am okay with being poor—I mean what else can I do? Like the March girls who imbued that hearty New England spirit, I embody Midwestern grit and determination, the make-do pioneer attitude. If it rains lemons then make lemonade. Lately what has descended upon me is discontent, a striving for something out there beyond my reach. There is something I want that I can’t get on my own.

Any close readers of this blog (all three of you) must by now know that I am restless for the next big thing. Maybe that’s why I keep applying for grants, residencies, scholarships even though I lack really great credentials. It’s a bit like what I blogged about a few entries back. Hope. You send it out there and see what flies home. Esperanza. A flitty, flighty thing is faith. You crack open the coconut to dig at the sweet flesh inside—it might satisfy or leave you only wanting more. That’s the problem with exotic fruit in these northerly climes.

Maybe that’s why I keep sending off stories. Not because they’re all that, but because I need to keep open the door to—   The Great Whatever.

Sometimes I think the only thing that will help is getting my book published. I have an agent who is peddling my manuscript. Yet I can’t keep from sliding into despondency. The market prognosis is so poor that I have less than a slight chance. As I wrote last time, I’ve placed 15 pieces (fiction and creative non-fiction) and made only $65. Why even Louisa May Alcott in her early career in the mid 1860s made more from selling her short stories than I’ve made 150 years later.

Who I really feel sorry for is Nebraska, who just defunded the arts in that state. Ha, the joke isn’t on those poor starving artists, like the March sisters they’ll make do. Nebraska the place of Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, John Neihardt and Black Elk. Mary Pipher, the famed writerly family therapist. My role models. No, the artists will continue, like their sod farmer great grandparents endured, but what about the people? The foreclosed, the unemployed, the meth users, those caught up in the poverty of their artless lives. Art, like the last carrier pigeon, just got shot down because no one had a clue, the foresight to see down the road and into the future.

So my prospects are not good. The future of publishing is looking bleak. So why bother, why do it?

Because of the intersection of head and heart, that senseless folly that says follow your instincts, and things will be all right. Because no matter what, you stayed true to who you are. Hope, taking wing.

1 comment:

Sheila said...


I am sure I must be one of more than five readers. Have you tried CICADA for your YA short stories? Also I mentioned namelos although an agent wouldn't want to work with Roxburgh's business model. Maybe send namelos a different novel or collection of short stories?
Take care--
Sheila (Will you be at Printers Row? Sunday -- 2:00 to 4:00 I'll be at the SCBWI booth.)