“Yeah, I’m as gay as they get.” Nationally syndicated sports journalist Thorton Feller’s recent announcement stunned the sports community. Unsure if his word was genuine, many decried his declaration as a publicity stunt for wider readership of his idiosyncratic column Feller’s Beef. Whatever the angle, it soon became the only topic on tap, forcing Mr. Feller to protest vehemently. “I’m not a gay sports journalist. I’m just a sports journalist. That’s it.” Mr. Feller’s ire became particularly inflamed by the most square-jawed of the scrum, Rock Misogyny, shrieking, “But you came out!”
I was let down again. Disappointment reigns. It was a writer’s workshop this time, an opportunity that almost seemed ideal, like it really would work. I was sure of that. Well, I wasn’t sure. Not quite that. But confident. And confident they would accept me. Almost. And then. Thud. Damn thud.I mean, I keep expecting something, at some point, to work. There should be. There must be. I mean, I get that it’s a struggle to find an agent and a publisher. I get that. But a workshop?! Come on! Not a workshop. What now? A deserted island. A mountaintop to clear my head. Damn thud. Ugh and damn. When is this thing going to turn? The thing is to push ahead. To fight back. To make it work. And to drink. Yeah, at least do that.
The Olympics confuse me.
Is the medal count simply calculated by the sum total? This currently results in these standings: 1. Russia 2. USA 3. Norway
Or are the medals weighted at Gold (3), Silver (2), Bronze (1)? Which creates this ranking: 1.Russia 2.Norway 3. USA and Canada (tie).
Or is it the Gold standard, focusing solely on the total of Golds (and using Silver and Bronze as tie-breakers)? 1. Russia 2. Norway 3. Canada.
Whatever the system, I find my Olympic excitement waning. I’m instead considering what seems to the more important question: Why does one count Olympic medals? This counting patriotism leaves something to be desired, constantly turning to the next event, looking for the right flag, focusing on the new countryman to give her all. While I have certainly cheered on my country, I have only found myself invested in Canada’s games: hockey and curling.
The passion of these Canadians is unchecked, the intensity bordering on hate – the good kind; you will never see a more indifferent handshake at game’s end.
It’s a raw display without the niceties and platitudes. And it’s a lot better than the counting game.
I was delighted to receive your query, and I have given it my most careful attention.
We appreciate your patience in allowing us to completely evaluate your material, giving it the ample attention it deserves.
Please forgive this impersonal note regarding your query.
Apologies for not answering in a more personal manner; given the large number of inquiries, it is simply not possible.
We are a small agency and do not have the staff to critique everything we receive.
I wish I could talk to every author who contacts us. Although that is not possible, you can read an interview with me on the subject of career development on my agency’s website.
Please be assured that your manuscript has been read and thoroughly evaluated.
There are many reasons to decline a manuscript.
Under other circumstances, I might want to take a look at some of your writing, but I’m afraid I am swamped with current circumstances.
While this appears to be a strong project, I’m afraid it doesn’t strike me as a likely fit with me and my particular editorial contacts.
The extract was read with interest, but unfortunately we are not interested in pursuing this project.
After review of your materials, we must respectfully pass.
Unfortunately your project does not meet with my current needs.
I’m afraid I wasn’t drawn into it to the extent I would need to be to offer my representation.
I’m not convinced I could succeed in placing your work.
Unfortunately your novel is not right for us.
I regret it is not a match.
Not for me. Thanks anyway.
My taste is eclectic and I am always seeking some balance in my client list.
We are taking on only a limited number of clients and feel that your work is not a good fit for our list.
As an agent I have to jump on those projects that excite me from the get go.
Please accept my regrets concerning your proposed submission.
Reading tastes are very personal however, so another agent may feel differently.
We certainly recognize that might well be passing up a good opportunity.
Your work deserves only the most passionate of advocates, and I am sure that with a book like this, you will find a good home for it.
We hope that you are not disheartened.
You may well become a hugely successful author, and this letter will become a document of our total failure to sign you before the lecherous hands of another gets their hooks into you.
We encourage you to keep writing and try other agents.
I’ve changed the opening to my bad side. Yes, again, but now it has more action, more of a hook, as those in the know have advised…My hand reflected ghostly in the silver elevator panel. There was a kind of liquid sound, almost like metal rain, inside me, a fluid crinkling in my brain, chewing into my ears and down my neck. I didn’t know what was wrong, a sickness or terror. Crystal was convinced she had brain cancer. She was always saying things like that, determined to be the loneliest, the purest of all. I rotated my heel back on the stiletto, my foot angling sharply up, and thrust through out of the elevator, only half open, my key already out, and pushed hard on the apartment door.
“Last warning.” Derek stood between the back of the couch and the window, a broom held up. Apollo crouched, his sleek serval shoulders tensed, his rear legs coiled like springs.
“What are you doing?!”
He turned on me. “Your fucking cat—“
“Leave Apollo alone!”
“Leave him alone?” Derek stepped sideways, his fire fighter’s cap tilted back. “Are you fucking serious?”
Apollo kept his body tight, his eyes on Derek, watching him, a rodent in the savanna.
“This fucking exotic monster of yours attacked me!”
“You need to leave.”
He came around the couch, stepping drunkenly; that’s when I realized he had a gun. “What’s with the dress? You fucking a prince?”
I stepped back.
“You turned your sister against me!”
“You need to go home.”Apollo sprang, stretching fully across Derek’s chest and dug his claws into his shoulder. There was a bang, like a window slamming shut. Apollo fell suddenly, in the middle of the rug, his bottom leg stuck out. I crouched over him and saw the hole in his shoulder, a tiny nothing and then a watery line of red trailing into the rug.
“I told her to call me.” Derek stood just above. “You know that.”
Everything in me was twisted tight, my heart erratic, a mess of veins squenched together, vibrating madly, almost still. I grunted as I swung around and threw myself fully into his legs, bringing both of us down, my arm under him. I swung at his face, missed, hitting the floor, surprised that none of it hurt, that I was that strong and had the gun, got up and kicked him in the neck.
“Stay there. Just stay there.”
He slumped back, his hand drunkenly clawing the air.
I tried to lift Apollo, but my arm wouldn’t work, and could only pull him around, his long legs almost lifeless. I drew the clothes off the dresser into a bag, a pile of shirts and underwear from a drawer, all of it onto his cage, like I had been waiting for this, and dragged everything behind me onto the elevator.
There is that moment, warm, familiar with being here, almost comfortable with the parameters of this life, knowing little, knowing everything in that.
Words and sounds are light and full, making sense, building something, bottle in hand, knowing there will be more, and there will be.
Thinking to stay in that, just the moment, almost forever, and realizing what an idiot, and laughing, because it was delicious and is gone.