I got an acceptance yesterday.
Rune Bear will publish a micro-fiction piece of mine on April 1st. I’m actually really excited to have that publication date. Somehow it feels very me.
This is, however, not my first acceptance. For all my whining, you’d think I’d never received one. I’ve technically received three as an adult, but I got my first acceptance in high school.
When I was a junior, I transferred to a new school halfway through the year. I studied abroad during my first semester because I was extremely fortunate, but when I came back, I didn’t want to return to the school where I’d spent my freshman and sophomore years due to teenage drama-trauma. However, the only way the new school would let me transfer is if I enrolled in their International Baccalaureate program. I guess the program administrator was trying to peddle it, so that was the deal he offered. Aside from physics, I was a pretty damn good student, so I said, sure, let’s do this thing.
What a colossal mistake. The other IB kids were way smarter than I was, and I was a semester behind in their regimented curriculum. I was extremely shy, and I sucked at the one thing I was supposed to be good at. I had no friends at school, and my English teacher hated me even though I was normally top-notch at the subject. And it was all my own doing. My already perilously low self-esteem sank below sea level.
Instead of paying attention in class, I started writing flash fiction in the free planner the school gave everyone. I wrote about a girl being trapped in a glass museum case and someone who took naps with rats. I even went all Kafka before I knew who Kafka was and wrote about someone who got turned into a slug, only to have salt poured on them by laughing children. I’d been writing since the fourth grade, but this was some Dark Teenage Shit.
Then came Caroline (not her real name). Bright red hair and a huge smile, she helped manage the boys baseball team and was also in the IB program. Considering my perpetual resting bitch face, I don’t know what made her approach me, but approach me she did. She was funny and easy to get along with; a kernel of hope popped to life.
One day after school, she asked if I wanted to hang out with her while she did stuff for the baseball team. I didn’t give a shit about baseball, though I had nothing against studying unattainable jocks in tight uniforms. More importantly, this was an opportunity for FRIENDSHIP, so I said yes as quickly as I could without looking desperate.
Somewhere along the line, I showed her my flash fiction. I don’t know why I would’ve done this because it was intensely personal and I barely knew her, but I must have been craving some sort of connection. My mom always said I was a great writer, but mom opinions couldn’t be trusted because they thought everything their kids did was great.
Caroline lit up. She said I should join the school’s literary magazine, Pensive (not the real name). She and her friend Ginger (not her real name either and she will probably kill me for using Ginger) were members too, so it would be fun. Oh, and not only should I join, but I should submit my work too. The sheer joy in my sixteen-year-old little heart crackled and cackled.
I was a little reluctant at first because the English teacher who I was convinced hated me was the faculty supervisor of Pensive. But, the possibility of friendship and more friendship was too big of a draw to keep me away. So I joined and I submitted and I tried not to panic. Entries were anonymized, so sitting at a large, round table after school with the other slush readers was nerve-wracking. We read every submission aloud, discussed, then came to a consensus. I was always careful not to say too much or too little when they read my entries, lest I give myself away.
But they accepted every single thing I gave them.
Pensive published roughly six or seven of my pieces over the course of my junior and senior years. I was astonished to see my words in print next to other words in a real, book-like publication. I was something. Yes, yes, yes. So many yeses.
Caroline, Ginger, and I became literary nerds attached at the hip. They made my depression and angst and low self-esteem feel manageable. Caroline and I co-wrote a piece that personified procrastination. Ginger wrote a fantastic, though sort-of-accidentally-super-phallic, poem. We obsessively commented on each other’s LiveJournal posts. I drove them around in my ancient Corolla after school, and they played their marching band instruments through the open windows. We laughed loudly and obnoxiously, and we didn’t care that we laughed loudly and obnoxiously.
The English teacher who hated me suddenly loved me. After I quit the IB program and switched to normal classes my senior year, we both breathed a sigh of relief. We agreed that joining the IB program midstream never should have happened and was a mess for everyone involved. It was all water under the bridge, though, because the teacher thought I was a talented creative writer. Talented! Can you imagine?
Ginger and I still text each other obsessively these days, and she supports the hell out of my often-aggravating writerly journey. The friendship with Caroline ultimately didn’t work out, but that’s life being life. However, I will always be grateful to her because she took the time to notice me and helped me get my first yes. Anyone can tell you how important a yes feels.