Maybe it’s because of Mercury Retrograde. Maybe it’s because of the books I’m reading on how to re-think aging. Maybe it’s because I want to feel connected to the parts of myself I’ve closed. But. This season, I’ve found joy in rediscovering old things I’ve written. I’ve reworked poems based on my voice and ideas now. Distance helps a thing grow.
Today, I actually submitted a few to two magazines, including one that I’ve submitted to years ago with work that was rejected because I had posted it on Facebook, so technically that meant it had already been “published.” Ha! Amateur mistake. I noticed that the editor of the magazine is still the same person. Part of me wondered if I should clarify who I am now since they keep a record of submissions / acceptances / rejections with notes like, “We regret to inform you we cannot publish this poem because of its appearance on another platform.” Plus, my last name changed. There are no poems on the internet by Amanda McMullen. I’ve been out of the submissions game for about seven years. And trust me, I now know not to publicly post original content that I am trying to submit to a publication! Then, I thought: no. Who needs explanations? If the work is rejected, I will submit it elsewhere. And elsewhere and elsewhere. Until the old/new poems find a home (that isn’t my Facebook feed, or Instagram, or website!).
Part of me is embarrassed of the writer I am not. The writer who lost touch with her passion and mission and goals. The writer who gave up.
And perhaps that’s what I want to explain away more than anything: Giving up is the real bad choice.
I don’t believe in the idea of “getting back to where I was,” because there is never a button you can push or a diet you can follow or a poem you can write that can take you anywhere beyond the current moment. I don’t want to “get back.” I want to go forward and stoke the light in my voice that started as a spark. I want to let go of the idea that I only ever wrote to gain acceptance by others—a lie I told myself that made me believe I was a fraud. I thought I was renouncing my ego when in fact, I was letting my ego corrupt my thoughts. I believed I had nothing valuable to say. And as more time passed, I believed I was too out of practice to ever say anything potent at all.
Looking at myself more gently now, I’ve learned that it’s okay to write and then want it to be noticed (or “accepted”) publicly. It’s like getting dressed up and taking a photograph. You want a part of you captured forever, the part that made an effort, the part that sings when it’s seen.
In many ways, I’m not starting over, I’m starting again. We’ll see where I go from here.