THIS IS JUST THE HEADS UP.
It’s not going to happen until April.
But it IS going to happen!
After 65 years of talking about it
(“I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!”);
After 20 years of doing something about it
After 8 years of
receiving form rejection slips;
receiving form rejection slips with “Sorry” handwritten on them;
receiving nicer form rejection slips with “We liked this quite a bit” handwritten on them;
receiving still nicer form rejection slips with “Almost, Nina! Keep trying!” handwritten on them;
receiving the occasional form rejection letter expressing pleasure at reading and chagrin at being unable to publish for lack of (a) space or (b) resources;
And after three years of having just about given up trying…
I AM FINALLY GOING TO APPEAR IN PRINT!
AND BE PAID (a little) FOR IT!
Yes! “Falling Off the Roof” — a twenty-three page memoir about the summer I turned thirteen — will appear in the Spring 2014 issue of The Iowa Review. The page proofs arrived today, so I know it’s finally true.
Apart from the age at which it is happening to me, there are several interesting aspects to this extremely belated triumph. I wrote a long-form version of the piece nineteen years ago, in 1995. It was then called “Atlantic City 1944.” Retired from the law, I cut it way down to what I hoped was publishable length and began sending it out as fiction eight years ago, in 2006. But it wasn’t until five years later in 2011, when I cut it down even further, gave it a more interesting title, and changed the narrator’s name from Anna to Nina, thereby transforming her first-person story into memoir for a whole new set of editors to consider — that I finally passed Go.
Even then, it was a pretty slow Go. Two years for the magazine to make up its mind; we didn’t sign a contract until March 2013. And one more year after that to move through Iowa’s pipeline to the printed page. It’s a wonder I’m still alive to see the day!
Some people might look for lessons here. Such as:
Never give up.
Editors come, editors go.
Some like what others don’t.
Memoir is still hot.
If it seems broke, fix it.
But I think the main lesson is just what it is in life generally:
You never can tell.
Single issues of The Iowa Review are $9.95 plus $2 shipping if you buy from the website. In addition, the Spring 2014 issue will be available on Kindle in April. You may also be able to find TIR for free at large public libraries and at university libraries, if you have access to one. I’d love to retype all of “Falling Off the Roof” for you right here and save you the hassle, but that would breach the contract, which guarantees TIR first publication rights. Unfortunately, blogging is considered “publication.”
You’ll probably hear more about this from me as April approaches. Right now, please forgive the blog seeming a bit bleary during the next few days. I shall be page-proofing with eagle eyes and a ruler beneath each line of text so as not to miss a single misplaced jot or tittle, and may therefore miss a whole lot of them online.