I've had enough editors and agents tell me that MG has promise, and more--it's lyrical, moving, reflective, a good story. My experience self publishing the mini memoir Sleep, Creep, Leap hasn't been a watershed moment, but it has put my work in the hands of over 100 readers--and the responses I've had from them have been positive (I wish I'd hear a negative so I knew what to change, besides making it longer, a common suggestion). And self publishing is not about making money--with 100 copies I've made $90 between the ebook and paperback versions, just enough to break even with production costs. I don't think I'd have sold 100 copies without making the book affordable.
I'm not sure what self publishing one of my big books like Morning Glory might mean: will it short circuit any chance to have a real press take it? Will it be a waste of time? Will it erode potential to get an academic teaching job? (Obviously, self published books don't get put on a cv or recognized because they've not passed a peer review process--as it should be.) Will it lead to something bigger, or smaller? Am I boxing myself in?
In general I take rejection well--after a few hours--and send out work again right away. Yet too many of my submissions to literary journals are nice ones, encouraging ones, even offers to edit and resubmit, but I don't know how to get over the hump. I had one essay at a very nice journal that "caused quite a conversation among the editorial board" and had a similar response from another. I have an essay about hummingbirds that, 50% of the time, gets a hand written compliment and then a "sorry." Yes, this is par for the course. But I hate golf. If you're gonna keep the horse moving forward you have to change out the dangling moldy carrot for a fresh one. And stop using so many allusions. (Also, please don't read any of this as a pity party or a narcissistic need for encouragement. I'm not trying to whine either--I just see this space as a forum to document my process and life as a writer, which is I suppose pretty much like most others.)
Tell me what you think--would you read Morning Glory?
When a son reflects on a childhood of gardening with his mother, he finds clues to a family lineage built around silences, distance, and forgetfulness. Eventually, his mother begins to openly reveal a past that confronts the author’s own dark nature. In the history of gardens there are great tragedies and triumphs, and in the garden we continue to discover our truest selves.
The day before the author’s wedding, his grandmother is in a serious accident a mile from the church. This event sets in motion a quest to discover the origins of mysterious letters sent from strangers, hints by aunts about their father, debilitating migraines, and the “Anderson” family persona—the ability to swiftly and sternly cut off an offending family member for years at a time for a seemingly trivial matter.
MORNING GLORY: A STORY OF FAMILY AND CULTURE IN THE GARDEN explores the wary and subdued relationship between mother and son, a relationship which typifies our species’ own with nature. As a son grows up learning about gardening with his mother, he eventually earns the right to ask questions about who she is, and who he is in her shadow. Revealing her own childhood of poverty, abuse, and religious fundamentalism, two people begin to understand themselves and their lineage of solitude and depression in a new light—particularly for the son in a difficult and new marriage. As this son looks at diverse cultural attempts to connect place with self, a powerful metaphor develops between gardening and emotional balance, and how ending our violence toward ourselves and each other is synonymous with ending our violence toward the planet. Ultimately, the only way to understand ourselves is to understand the garden, and vice versa.