Why do we write? To earn a grade? To express a feeling? To convey a point of view? To educate? To leave our life’s memories for those who will follow? To challenge ourselves, verify that we can? Or … ?
Although I was an English major, I never wrote unless I was required to do so. I wrote for my high school and college newspapers, but I didn’t consider that real writing, as I was “on assignment.”
And then before my 30th birthday, my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. My grief was heavy, and I needed help. My therapist did not suggest I write. Instead, the work of poets I had studied took on a new significance and called out to me: Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death/He kindly stopped for me … ” and Dylan Thomas’ admonition to his father, “Do not go gentle into that good night/ Old age should burn and rave at close of day;/Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
So I bought a blank book covered with blue and white flowers and began to write. And I wrote — filled it up with sarcasm, anger, tender memories, and at times, a feeling that “all our dreams are ashen papers that crumble to the touch.”
With funding from the Piqua Community Foundation and the Piqua Public Library, the English professors at Edison State Community College are seeking your photographs, poems, stories, plays, essays, Op-Ed pieces, and even manifestos for possible inclusion in a literary/photograph journal — both a print version and an online edition.
Submissions are open to anyone who lives anywhere. For example, an African safari guide who had an internship at Brukner Nature Center in 2002 has promised to send in some of his photographs.
The title of the volume is “Excursions,” so virtually any direction in which your writing takes you will fit the theme. Those published in the print version will receive a free copy, and there is no fee for submission.
One of the major reasons writers never submit their work for possible publication is fear — fear of not being good enough, fear of humiliation, fear of being rejected. The list of acclaimed authors who were rejected initially is quite long. Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” was rejected 38 times before being accepted, and Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before having one published. Even living legend Stephen King faced rejection with his novel “Carrie” 30 times.
Unconventional and experimental American poet e e cummings, who has had a tremendous impact on modern and contemporary American poetry, had the last laugh when he self-published a collection of his poem titled “no thanks,” and dedicated it to the 14 publishers who had turned it down. The first edition was bound across the top — as opposed to the conventional left-hand binding — with two upper case Es facing each other and “Cummings” in bold print, followed by a cursive “no thanks” all in red.
So if fear is your problem, swallow it and submit. Rummage in your desk drawers or on your computer and send something you’ve written. Or perhaps you will be inspired to write a new selection. Ideas for poems and stories abound, as do scenes to photograph.
Multiple submissions are possible as is work that has been previously published. Just send me an email, and I will send you a copy of the submission guidelines. Time, however, is running out, as the deadline is April 30, at midnight, and all submissions must be made electronically.
Dr. Blevins has taught undergraduate and graduate students as well as prison inmates, and now teaches communication and American literature classes at Edison State Community College. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.