Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Greetings all. Late spring has finally arrived here in Seattle, meaning it's sunny (sort of), warm (sort of), and yet another birthday is about to roll around. (Yay! Cheering despite fears of creeping decrepitude!)

Besides the many lavish gifts I'm sure I'll receive from friends and family, one of the best is coming in the form of publication. Though I've published quite a few things over the years, never has something gotten published on my actual birthday.

The backstory: Five years ago, on the eve of the publication of BreakupBabe: A Novel, I attempted to get over my postpartum novel-writing depression by pouring my energies into an oh-so-witty and incisive essay about blogging and how it had blessed my writing life and cursed my love life. This was not just any essay, though. This essay would be published in "Modern Love" in the New York Times!

I slaved over this essay with Modern Love in my sights. I don't know why I wanted to be published in Modern Love so bad. I wasn't looking for an agent or a book deal - I already had one of those. I just wanted to. Since I was now a bonafide expert on writing about love, lust, and relationships, my writing (so I believed)  was a natural fit for this most coveted of columns.

You know where this is going, right? My story got rejected. Oh, the hubris! I even turned down the chance to contribute an essay to Single State of the Union because I was working on this stupid, soon-to-be-rejected essay.

After picking up the pieces of my broken heart, I submitted the essay a few more places. Then I gave up. Because after all, this piece was written expressly for Modern Love. It didn't belong anywhere else, damn it!

So imagine my delight when a writer friend told me recently about a new website called "Modern Love Rejects," a site that publishes - well, just what it sounds like.  I checked out the site and found out that I was in very good company indeed. Lots of good writers get rejected from Modern Love. Multiple times! Including the founders of the website, who are widely published journalists and authors both.

I also found out that the site doesn't publish just any reject essay: the editors have to like it and think it fits the "Modern Love" format. You also have to forward your rejection from the Modern Love editor to prove your claim that you actually submitted there.

Here's mine: "Dear Rebecca, I read your piece with interest, and it's nicely handled, but I'm afraid we've done a few 'blog' pieces, including one early on that had the writer starting the blog as a means to vent after a break up. Even though that was a while ago and yours heads in a different direction, it still feels a bit too close and familiar. But thanks for trying me."

I was therefore tickled pink when Modern Love Rejects not only accepted my essay but told me it was one of the nicest rejections they had ever seen from the Modern Love editor without it actually being an acceptance. Whoohoo!

So there you go. My favorite birthday present of the year (though more lavish gifts could roll in at any minute). Look for it on Monday, May 23rd!

Meanwhile, while I'm bragging about my own accomplishment, I do want to give a shout-out to two of my Seattle writer friends who actually did get published in Modern Love recently: Kathy Harding, who writes about finding love and getting pregnant when she least expected it, and Nicole Hardy, whose essay is called "Single, Female, Mormon, Alone."