After the election, a reminder to LOVE

I’ve got a new piece published, and after this election, you may want to give this whole publication a look.

When editor Amanda Fall scheduled the November edition of The Phoenix Soul, how could she have known all of us, maybe especially we women, would need to be reminded that we are BELOVED?

To read my poem, and other really wonderful essays, poems, interviews, and more from women of all backgrounds, you’ll have to pay a whopping $6 here. But it’s worth it.

All of us could use a little self-care right now.

 

For Such a Time as This: An Interview with God

This is not a political post. This is a spiritual and ethical post. It isn’t about the economy or the election. It’s about justice and faith and most of it was written by my guest blogger, God Himself¹.

Me: God, what is it you want from us right now?

God: Shout it aloud; do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and…sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God….

Me: What kind of commands are you talking about?

God: [Y]ou do as you please and exploit all your workers….[q]uarreling and…striking each other with wicked fists….

Me: Okay, I get that. But honestly, I personally have never exploited workers, and I haven’t hit anyone either (except my sister when we were kids and the three times I gave Erik a bloody nose but I swear those were accidents). So, how about me? What kinds of commands have I broken?

God: [T]his…I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free….to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter….

Me: Oh. Um. I kind of, you know, can’t say I’ve done those things. But I want to! So, what will happen if I do, you know, speak up for others²? Work for social justice³? Feed the poor and visit the sick and imprisoned*?

God: Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear…. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

Me: Thanks, God. Did I mention my name actually is Dawn? Anyway. Always good to have you on the show.

God: Anytime. Literally.

Yesterday, the friend of a friend was on the bus when a stranger told him, “All you wetbacks are gonna be sent back to Mexico now.” I hope someone stood up for him.

We should never ignore injustice. That makes us complicit. (I’m out of footnotes. Read Matthew 25:41-46 if you want more from my interview with God about being complicit supporters of injustice. It’s chilling.)

Christians, it’s our duty to stand up for the defenseless. Whites, it’s our moral imperative to defend our black and brown friends, duh–but also strangers. If you’re white and Christian, like me, then it’s way past time to carry the burdens of others (God again! Galations 6:2). The burdens are heavy. This is no joke.

The teacher part of me knows that learning happens faster when we’re given manageable steps to get us started, so buckle up.

  1. Do you have friends who are black/brown/undocumented/Muslim/gay/trans/etc? Reach out to them. It will feel awkward. Some of them might get offended. That’s ok. Here’s what I texted to my friends: “Are you doing okay after hearing the election results? I want you to feel safe. Please let me know if you need anything! Ever! We will stand up to anyone who tries to make life rough for you. We love you and are glad you’re here.” I even sent it to people who were born and raised here, and they also admitted to feelings of insecurity and fear. This is real, so step out of your comfort zone and let those close to you know that you are with them.
  2. Volunteer. Somewhere, for something, helping someone. Reread my interview with God. I can’t “spend myself” on the behalf of others if I limit myself to BBQ’ing hotdogs at my kids’ soccer party. That’s great, and all, but we’ve (me too) got to do much, much more. If you’re stuck for ideas, go online and type in your words. I used “volunteer Seattle immigrants” and my first hit gave me 85 local opportunities.
  3. Be an ally. Smile. Look friendly. Stay alert to what’s going on around you. Black and brown people and women of all races have been doing this for years; do it with and for them. If you see something that looks like harassment brewing, step up. If you saw a dog chasing a kid, anyone’s kid, you’d overcome your fear and use your body as a physical shield. Do it here too. It will be scary but you’ll survive.

These three ideas are not the end. These are the beginning. I want my brightness to shine like the summer sun at noon, and it won’t until my fingers bleed from clawing chains off my brothers and sisters.

So. What about you? For here we are, whether we like it or not. Are you willing to get in there and get to work, at such a time as this?

 

¹In Isaiah 58. You can find the full text of my interview with God here, minus the parts that were me interviewing, of course.

²God again, in Proverbs 31:8.

³That God! He says such great things! But I paraphrased this time: Proverbs 31:9

*God (this time disguised as Jesus) has so many quotes that my website ran out of footnote numerals… Matthew 25:35

 

Photo credit by Andrzej Otrębski – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24600923

 

 

Finding Markets for Our Writing: It Only Feels Futile

Today’s post deals with finding paying writing markets. To put it bluntly, if you’re a writer, you might find this interesting. If you’re not a writer; or aspiring writer; or I guess, you know, my mom, you will likely find this information a total snooze-fest.

Also, this is a two-part post: one for this week, and one for next week. So don’t be surprised when you get to the end of this post and I haven’t talked about money. At all. Because I’m not going to. Despite what I said in the first sentence.

You’ve been warned.

So, when I first started writing, I didn’t care if a market paid or not. It’s not like I had stacks of cash mouldering* under the floorboards, but mainly, I was focused on learning, on getting in. So, publication credits (also called “clips;” aka “Look! Look! There’s my name! In print!” or, often, “I mean, online!”) were way more important than pay.

I made soooooo many mistakes, because I was making things up as I went along.

I did research, you know. I used websites like Writers Digest, books like Writers Market, and magazines like If Writing Were Easy Everyone Would Do It**. I went to Barnes and Noble and leafed through page after page of literary journals–aka “places that publish essays and poetry instead of news articles. Mostly.” When my head grew cloudy, I rearranged the magazines and took photographs, so I could research the titles later.

The main mistake I made was submitting my work to the wrong markets.

  • Wrong Market #1) Any market that publishes essays of more than 1,500 words. (Because I wasn’t writing those yet.)
  • Wrong Market #2) Any market that regularly included lines like “and so I ate the dystopian dust of society, marking time with the metronome of my biology, and took residence in a town far removed from my previous locale,” because, well, if it’s not obvious, then you are definitely reading the wrong blog here.
  • Wrong Market #3) Any market that made me feel like slitting my wrists (whether due to the chronic moroseness of the pieces, or despair at having to read yet another essay about the evil that lurks within, it’s really too close to call).
  • Wrong Market #4) Any market that sells at Barnes and Noble. Since every blessed one is all three of the first Wrong Markets combined.

But wait! These journals were famous! And gorgeous! And $21.99 each! So I naively sent off my dorky little essays and poems, filled with humorous anecdotes and sentences of less than 30 words each, and waited expectantly.

Thanks to all the writing I was doing, I got a lot of rejections. So that was cool.

Now that I’m older (by a whole year! or seven months, at least), and wiser (compared to, say, the moms on Toddlers in Tiaras) and arguably more experienced (think of all those rejections! That’s a lot of experience!), I have this to say:

Finding the right market takes an incredible amount of time.

I’m talking, for the last two days I’ve done no original writing, but have merely searched out journals online, read through a bunch of the stuff they publish, and deleted their names from my list of markets to check out. Because seriously people, apparently the need for writing that is funny, and easy-to-read, and accessible by anyone who made it to at least tenth grade, apparently this need has already been filled by Dave Barry.

So, I’ve decided it’s time for good old Dave to retire. That’s right, Dave! Step aside! It’s time for someone else to get some play around here!

Meanwhile, if you’re a writer, take your time. Join Duotrope. Write a lot, but spend hours (and hours, and hours, and hours, until they hang a sign with your name on the back of your chair in the library) researching markets till you find ones that sound like what you’ve got to offer.

Because the trick is not to find 100 publications that might like a piece you send in.

The point is to find twenty markets that will publish your work over and over. I’ve found one market like this so far, and the relationships I’ve established with the editors and other contributors are phenomenal.

If I could clone that, I would. But since I can’t, it’s time for me to hit the books, folks.

I’ve got more markets to find.

 

*Yes, I know that “mouldering” is technically spelled without the u. But it looks cooler this way.

**Not a real title.

Photo credit of a bunch of markets that will never publish my writing: Matthew Pack (News stand) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons