Upon finishing my submission for the TRAGEDY QUEENS ANTHOLOGY, which I have been working on for far longer than I might've imagined, I knew I had to write about the story here.
I stumbled across the anthology's call for submissions on Twitter many months before, and fell in love with the idea just as I'd fallen in love with Sylvia Plath and Lana Del Rey. It seemed the perfect opportunity to dig into the lives of two women who provide inspiration for my own writing life.
The experience of writing through their eyes came much easier than I would've thought, and I'm not sure what that says about me.
Here's what I know for sure:
I became obsessed with Sylvia Plath the summer Robin Wasserman suggested I read The Bell Jar. That was the year I started a story, the current work-in-progress, about a girl going mad. And Sylvia's story was poignant, voice otherworldly it seemed, and I saw a bit of myself in the writing the darkness, the possession of words within. I found myself seeking out her unabridged journals and her collection of poetry and most recently, her collection of short stories, prose, and diary excerpts entitled Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. I was already fully immersed in Plath's world.
And Lana Del Rey has always struck me with her lyrics and haunting voice, as I'm sure she has many listeners. I remember that same voice in the beginning of "Ride," as she said, "I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken." And I remember what it felt like writing poetry, how much I'd missed it, and her voice, the sweetness, the silk, brought me back to the page.
Now it is today, and I've submitted my 4,500 word short story, my longest by far. And I am pleased with the final product, guided by both Lana and Sylvia to find the life of a woman, which seamlessly intersects with mine, as the lives of all characters and writers must at some point cross.
I hope you get to read this story from the pages of the TRAGEDY QUEENS ANTHOLOGY. I hope Sylvia Plath, wherever her soul might be now, hears the words of the mad girls, the bad girls, the sad girls who have bridged the between of life and death.
Sylvia's voice haunts beyond the grave, and Lana's blares through my headphones
as I type this; "Born to Die," has been the song I've written and revised to for a month now, and I feel the lines in my bones. They hurt. They heal. They hurt again.
Writing hurts sometimes, too. I'm not going to say writing this story was easy because not knowing my own darkness hurt, even if I am not my characters. And the pain of killing the darlings of a short story that has far exceeded the word count of any other I've ever written still throbs a bit.
Such is the life of a writer.
As I mark this story down in my journal, I scan the page for all the pieces that have been rejected this year. There are many. Thirty-six to be exact. But there are some acceptances as well. One has already been published. The other will make its debut in 2017. The writing continues. Rejections are a way of life. I handle them better than ever before.
With 2017 just days away, I find myself looking back at the past year. Like so many others, I am ready for 2017 to make its debut.
Last year, I did make myself the promise that I would write here more often, and I have. I could be better. And like my word for the year demanded, I did believe. Really, I did.
Who knows what the next year has in store. Maybe the publication of my tragic girl who so perfectly fits with Sylvia's quote pictured above: "Please don't expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand."
To those I hurt or harmed or frustrated to the point of grief, unintentional as such pains may be, I can only excuse such actions by quoting Plath: I am not always good or kind even when I try. And maybe I will always be difficult to understand as worlds build themselves in my head, words budding from seedlings of ideas brought forth in a poem or a story or a sad note.