Today there's a new story from my series of counterfactual biographies up at The Emprise Review. I have to send some thanks out to Amber Sparks for being the perfect history nerd for this story. This one's called "John Sevier" and it's about the one and only Governor of the lost state of Franklin.
Franklin existed as a state in the union for about four years, until it was absorbed into what's now Eastern Tennessee. Apparently, there are several of these "lost states" that existed for a little while and then just...went away. The research I did for this flash is by far the most interesting research I've done throughout this project. There are all kinds of interesting things about Franklin and Sevier that just couldn't fit into this story, so I recommend looking them up if you're inclined. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the glimpse this story provides!
Here's a sample:
What haunts him most, more than the ghosts of those he buried in Franklin who now rest in Tennessee, is that no one saw the greatness he saw. He was one vote shy of being granted statehood. In desperation, he even tried to negotiate a deal with the Spanish who, despite their lust for a foothold in the Appalachians, did not send the money.
And when it was time to fight for Franklin, to fight for freedom and liberty and the land beneath their own feet, his soldiers wouldn’t charge. They spared shots against their former neighbors, playing at bad aim and jammed rifles. Even when Sevier’s own sons were taken, his men would not fight. He had to retreat like a wounded horse, send an unarmed man to retrieve his boys.
So, remember when I thought I was being stalked by a robot? Turns out there were people behind that website, but the web-stalking was completely unbeknownst to them! Check out the email I got this morning from kind Fabio in Florence:
Subject: NO Stalking - sorry for the misadventure!
through Google analytics we just found out about your misadventure with our website. I am very sorry, we are not responsible for it. I (Italian) and my German partner have in fact a website in German language promoting our tasting tours in Italy. The url is www.die-genussreise.de. We have no the slightest idea how someone was able to enter our server and insert this incredible page with your pictures. Moreover, we have now serious problems of getting rid of this page and might have to rebuild the whole website from scratch. We use WordPress for the website. I am very sorry again and will do our best to cancel the page asap. We were as schocked to find out this as you were!
So look at that! The Internet: Bringing People Together To Set the Record Straight About Who's Stalking Who Since 1994.
I wrote a little article for Flash Fiction Chronicles about dealing with rejection. Since the article was a sort of "advice" piece, I stuck to techniques that I would actually recommend to other writers. But for my personal blog, where I let bigger chunks of my crazy out onto the internet, I thought I'd mention a few other things I do to deal with rejection that I wouldn't necessarily recommend.
Enjoy this glimpse into one rejected writer's mind, but don't try this at home.
- I'm super-optimistic in life generally, but I am super-pessimistic when it comes to my writing. Whenever I send a piece out, I fully and completely expect to be rejected. I retain not even a glimmer of hope. This is even true when the submission is solicited, only it's worse because I think, "Man. That person liked me before and now I'm going to ruin it."
- I obsess over other writer's rejections. I faithfully read all the blogs about literary rejection. I follow Duotrope like some people follow the stock market. When Roxane Gay blogs about some magazine or another saying "no thanks," I scream with relief on the inside because her words are so, so beautiful and if I'm getting some of the same rejection slips as she is, there is hope for all of us in this crazy, mixed-up world.
- I overstate what rejections mean because for some reason, it helps. Of course I know that a rejection slip actually means something like: "One of our readers didn't get into this, or was having a bad day, or something just like this appeared in our last issue, or the editor has an ex-boyfriend named Clarke and couldn't sympathize with the character, or the opening was a little flabby, or this doesn't fit our aesthetic, or this is a smidge too long, or too short, or too lyrical, or too narrative, or we can't explain it but this just didn't cut it for us, etc., etc., etc." And that's what I tell people they mean. But when it's just me and my partner, the conversation goes more like this: ME: "I got a rejection from Journal X today." HIM: "What did it say?" ME: "It said, 'We hate you. You're a terrible writer and human being. We wish you would die so we could stop reading your pathetic stories.'" HIM: "It was a form rejection?" ME: "Yeah."
- Privately, I do very unsportsmanlike-like things, like make a list of every magazine that has published any piece of mine rejected by Journal X. Then I look at that list and think, "Ha. What is that editor thinking? Everyone loves all this stuff s/he hates. I hope s/he sees them in those other magazines." And then I stop being a jerk, work harder and submit again with a customarily friendly cover letter.
This is the ugly side of how I deal with rejection, but it's real. When you have to deal with rejection on an almost daily basis, you're bound to end up getting by on whatever gets you by, right? Or is it just me?