I do the thing they all suggest: Before submitting to [insert name of publication here] be sure to read previous issues. Which, of course because why bother asking to be part of a club so outside your wheelhouse? Do not, for example, submit your very best piece of erotica to Highlights for Children. That would be…bad. Hilarious if you told me it as a story, but on the whole, pretty much not okay.
Kind of like when my friend Jeremy and I went into Whole Foods and asked them where they kept the Hostess Cupcakes.
Anyway. I do read a lot. All the time, even, and I make note of writers who move me or whatever. I try not to get too hung up on their biographies but I do have to read them to see how to follow them whether it’s on social media or their website, substack, whatever. All of that shit I try to keep track of. But, you know. Seeing their accomplishments kind of suck when yours aren’t remotely in the same world you’re trying to dig yourself into.
It’s like, everybody has an MFA or a string of places you can “find their work.” They’ve not only done the nonsense of writing, but have actually sent it out into the world. I mean, What the fuck.
Not only do I not have an MFA, I’m a bereaved neurodivergent displaced disabled indigenous college drop-out; recovering drug user with CPTSD now happily remarried and obsessed with my completely chaotic struggling family. I have a dead cat, two rescue dogs, two AuDHD children and a slightly-normal husband who has no idea what in the hell he has gotten himself into. I have a countertop full of dirty dishes and a bedroom full of laundry baskets themselves full of all kinds of nonsense getting in the way of pretty much everything.
I have nightmares about being left behind.
I have a history of being left behind.
Like a lot of us, I have written since I was a child, fan-ficcing and self-inserting my favorite stories so I could befriend Sarah Crewe and tell Miss Minchin to her face what a no good horrible absolute witch she was. Because that’s what you can do when you write: you can do things you would never dream of doing in real life. You could be brave, when in fact you were so terrified of just the face your mother made when she felt the slightest disappointment.
I’ve had a few things published. I’m super proud of that. I’ve even gotten a whole one hundred dollars from my writing, woohoo! I try not to do that thing where I dismiss my accomplishments but it’s a work in progress. Also, it’s been a whole ton of time since I’ve touched my pages in any real sense. Obsession with the chaos family and all that.
I think a lot of us can understand.
But now that I’m trying to make probably my twenty-seventh paltry stab at creating more than just fifty word vignettes-slash-notes-to-myself-to-write-something-for-realsies, and now that both my children are out of young childhood and not sitting directly in my lap day and night, there is some time to focus on more than just everybody’s eating schedule. There is time to turn those fifty words into maybe something more. Follow the thread through the labyrinth etc etc.
(Although I’m kind of lying to myself because right now I’m part way homeschooling my daughter, which is, like everything, a total shitshow. At least we’re consistent.)
The submitting stuff I’m fine with. I’m more concerned with doing all of these different submission processes correctly than with whether or not they’ll accept my sentences. Being organized enough to know what to sumbit to where and, most importantly, when. And how. OMG I’m the worst at the how.
(Rule followers anonymous, can I get an Amen?)
And, of course, I’m the very most concerned with the little italicized words they put at the bottom. Being honest feels like a total disaster.
Celeste-Noelani McLean is a fake writer. She doesn’t read craft books and watches too much trash teevee to have an actual writing schedule.
Celeste-Noelani McLean is a college drop-out with a dead cat and alive dogs. Her house is full of dog hair.
Celeste-Noelani is a white-ass Pacific Islander displaced from her father’s homeland by tourism and military occupation. She is now a shitty white-ass settler on the land of the Duwamish People of Turtle Island.
Celeste-Noelani hardly ever sees her brother, even though he lives less than three miles away.
Celeste-Noelani really misses her old Twitter timeline.
Celeste-Noelani shot the food.
That part’s the worst. Sometimes I’d rather not submit at all than try to come up with some lofty bullshit for someone else to read. Try to keep track of me. IDK, man. Thinking about yourself in third person is the fucking worst. Who invented that?
Somebody else write the bio. I give everybody enough of myself already.
image of Kāneʻohe Bay by Bob Lindell via Wikimedia Commons