A year ago I vented to a friend about wanting to shutdown my literary journal. I was frustrated and feeling as if both my writing and the journal were stalled. I couldn’t see what good was coming from spending each month publishing work and sending my own submissions out into the world. He listened to me vent and then told me in a deadpan voice to shut it down. I, of course, cried and found a reason to end the call. A few minutes later, he called back and told me he knew I hadn’t meant it and he was giving me a bit of tough love.
Since that phone call, I’ve come to be very appreciative that I didn’t drop my pen and stop writing. Soon after, I was accepted into Callaloo and traveled to Oxford. I won a chapbook contest. I got poems selected for an upcoming anthology. I sold my first pitched piece. I was solicited to submit work. I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. I presented at HippoCamp. I published multiple essays and poems.
I started to believe that 2017 was becoming my year. And then I stopped. It’s not about one year belonging to me. It was about me finally seeing some of the fruits of my labor and recognizing my path belongs to only me. I’d spent so much time comparing myself to the successes I saw on Twitter. I was upset I always seemed on the outside of the (black) literary world and I would have given anything to have a bit of that light. I reduced the world to such microscopic levels it was amazing.
I can’t say I don’t still crave that light at times, but I’m better at recognizing my talents and my journey. I’m a good writer and I have a voice that is my own.I’m slower than most and that’s okay. I cast my seeds out into the world a small bit at a time and wait to harvest them. I don’t sow them as wild oats. The number of submissions I have out in the world isn’t as important to me as whether or not the piece is a good fit and it’s something I love. I don’t want to throw things against the wall to see what sticks.
I’m promising myself I will continue to go at my own speed and stop comparing myself to writers who are on a completely different path. I know where I want to go, what I want to accomplish, what I want to leave as my writing legacy. I’ll get there, at snail’s pace or slower, but there nonetheless.