Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thoughts On The Search For Meaning

Some experiences in life make us all the better for having had them, even if we may not believe that to be the case at the time. Often we may not recognize the goodness or richness inherent in an experience until much later, especially the mentally or physically or emotionally challenging ones.

Maybe that delayed learning is the essence of human adaptation in the face of seemingly unbearable pain or change---letting go when it seems no good can come of it or holding on for dear life to all that seems to have meaning.  And sometimes both of those sentiments are wrapped up in one event, symbolic gesture, touch or sound.  Who hasn't been catapulted decades back at the sound of a few chords from a song or felt tears well up at the sight of a tri-fold American flag presented with the thanks of a grateful nation to a bereaved mother or young widow?

Occasionally we are blessed by the gift of understanding even in the very same moment. Those instant revelations seem to fill our senses to bursting as we struggle to absorb and appreciate the full measure of their meaning on the spot---as a new baby first suckles at its mother's breast or with the exchange of trust when a new driver is given the keys to a car on his or her first solo date.

Perhaps the blessing is surviving those life events to allow understanding to occur in the fullness of time. That is, maybe individual experiences only become more meaningful as we age. Layered one upon another, they seem to make us wiser, stronger, more complete---like the plies and cross plies in plywood or the over-lying layers of fiber glass in a boat hull.

Time allows us to process what has occurred into why it happened in the first place.  In those first few proximate moments, the why often remains hidden, sometimes in plain sight.  Yet it waits to be discovered when our vision has cleared and we are ready to see.

Friday, May 4, 2012


The top ten responses from editors and publishers and what they mean....

By Bill Kirk

Now that National Poetry Month is behind us and no doubt many of you have a stack of submission quality poems and stories to work with, it's time to crank up the submission machine.  To give you a little something to look forward to, here's a tongue in cheek poke at the submission responses all of us dream about and wait for. 

Reprised from an earlier version, it's been updated for your reading pleasure and encouragement on your writing journey.  Apologies in advance to all the editors and publishers on the receiving end of our millions of submissions.

#1: No response from the publisher… No, really.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada....

OK. So, it's been over two years---some people are thorough. Obviously, the editor must still be thinking about it.

# 2: Your original outgoing envelope shows up, returned unopened---manuscript still inside, with no notes, no form letter or any other indication that anyone or anything besides a Pitney-Bowes mail sorter has touched it....

Why is that little pointy finger stamp next to "Return To Sender" bent that way? Nah, can't be....

#3: A returned SASE with nothing inside….

Oh, Wow! The editor must have liked it so much they made copies and are still passing them around the office!

#4: An SASE with a pre-printed, unsigned and unmarked form letter....

How can you not appreciate all the extra effort and attention? Someone had to write the form letter, didn't they? I coulda been the first one they sent it to!

#5: A returned SASE with a SIGNED form letter and an explanation box chec.... Wait. All SIX boxes are checked---and with different size check marks....

Hand-checked boxes! Now we're talking! I'm getting "goosies" all over! Someone actually held this rejection letter in their hand! Surely they must have read me!

#6: A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter and an encouraging rejection note-like, "I read this twice before throwing it away." or "Next time, don't waste your postage on a SASE"….

OMG, a perk! They're going to pay the return postage next time. Quick! Send them something else---preferably before the postman drives away!

#7: A returned SASE with a marked up manuscript---in color crayon---and three Cheerios inside....

I'm impressed! The editor's 3-year old prodigy child must be on the payroll.

#8: A returned SASE with the manuscript inside, marked up with legible comments like, "This is truly beyond belief! In my 25 years as an editor, I've never seen anything like it...."

Be still, my heart! Finally, someone who really understands how unique and creative I am.

#9: A returned SASE with a form letter and a signed hand-written note asking to see more….

YES!!! Honey, where did you put those used car ads? I'm feeling a Jaguar in our future....

And the #10 response: A returned SASE with a SIGNED offer letter and an anticipated date of publication... sometime within the next ten years....

FINALLY!!!! This puppy's going under my name as my first "Coming Soon" credit at the bottom of my e-mail messages!