Wesleyan Writers Conference

Some years ago, I went to a class on how to get published. On the last day of class, the teacher (who also was a writer) gave us a brochure for the Wesleyan Writers Conference for that year. Depending on whether or not we opted to include meals or stay overnight on campus for the conference, the cost of attending ranged from $800 to over $1000.

I didn’t go.

Last year, I should have gone, though I had little time between when I returned home from Japan and when the applications were due. I also may not have been able to send in any work for a manuscript consultation, as I had no computer at that time, and no manuscript ready enough to be read by someone else. I could have used my dad’s computer, I suppose, but I didn’t.

This year, however, I decided to check out when the conference was being held. Well, I inquired a little late this time, too.

Since I couldn’t find the original brochure, I thought that the conference was either in July or late June. Turns out that it takes place in the middle of June, with most people applying for it before the end of May. I found out this information while looking it up yesterday.

So, I wrote an email to the woman in charge of the program, and she wrote me back, saying that I could apply to the program over the weekend, if I wished, by calling her home phone number. This was after I already had gone to the post office with the application filled out and the check written, only to find out that the last pickup had occurred a half-hour before I arrived.

Now, I didn’t apply for the five days that the program covers, since writing on those days would benefit me more than going to workshops on writing. Also, the main reason to sign up for the whole program was to have a manuscript consultation, and I had missed that deadline for sending one in. Luckily, there was another option: a one-day program that cost $150 and included two meals (but no manuscript consultation), starting at 9 am on June 18th (the last day of the program) and ending at 10 pm. Of course, I didn’t have to stay for the whole thing if I didn’t want to, but why not?

Since I already had the check written out, and since I thought that one or two days shouldn’t make much of a difference, I wrote back to the woman in charge of the conference and told her that I’d rather send my application out by mail, since I already had it prepared. Therefore, today I went to the main post office (different from the post office I went to yesterday) to drop off the letter so that it would go out in the morning tomorrow.

Only one problem: the post office got rid of morning pickup.

So, now my letter will languish in the drop box until 3pm tomorrow before traveling on its merry way to Middletown the following day (I hope). If registrations start filling up quickly for the conference, however, I advised the woman in charge of the conference to email me back, so that I might register by phone. All this work for something that I could have avoided, had I known that I had missed the collection time BEFORE I left my house yesterday afternoon, thereby precluding my filling out a check for it. And then, not having a check ready to be sent out, I could have registered over the phone, and known that I would be going to the one day conference.

Why? Why didn’t I just register over the phone and rip up the check? Then I wouldn’t have all this stress built up over whether or not a day or two might make a difference in whether I get to go. Well, quite simply, it’s because I’m stubborn. Also, since this woman needed me to provide my credit card number and the 3-digit number on the back of my card, I figured that she needed that info to bring into the school tomorrow in order to complete the transaction. If the post office still had early pickup, then mailing it would have taken only a few hours more.

Oh well. I suppose I worry too much about these things.

I’ll write more about this one-day conference once I know that I’m going. And, of course, there is a class being offering there on blogging.

Update: Just got an email. A spot will be reserved for me, so sounds like all my worrying is needless. 🙂

In Commemoration of the Tiananmen Square Massacre

Tiananmen Square

As the ladies with their babies
Look outside to Tiananmen Square,
Bullets are sprayed and many do slay
The protesters who are lined up there.
Men with rifles wish to stifle
The resistance that’s building everywhere.
As people look on they see the throng
Being gunned down in Tiananmen Square.


Another Rejection

This will be a short one, but since I got a rejection letter today, I thought I’d share it with all of you. Not that this is my first rejection letter. I’ve gotten them for every single poem and short story that I’ve sent out to date. I haven’t counted them up, but I’m nowhere near the 100 I feel that I need to receive before my stuff starts getting published. Plus, contests are notoriously hard to win, even though they guarantee that the winning poem/short story will be published.

So, I sent three poems last month to the Al Savard Poetry Contest. The letter I got today announced the poems and authors that won first, second, and third prize, as well as an honorable mention. No, I did not get an honorable mention, either. Since most rejection letters merely say that your work “did not win,” I did appreciate the fact that this form letter explained the reasoning behind choosing the winning poems. I hope the poems are good. There’s nothing worse than reading something that won an award in a contest you entered, and feeling that your work was ten times better, kind of like most of the poetry I’ve read in the New Yorker. Maybe my taste in poetry is too classical to love the “deep meanings” of the prose-filled dribble that invest many of the poems in that magazine. Not that I haven’t read poems that are good, or even astounding, in there. But, with a year’s subscription from several years ago that I’m still reading (got three months or so to go!), I’ve only come across two poems that moved me, and maybe a handful more (by a Nobel Prize-winning poet, no less) that I enjoyed reading. Then again, that magazine no longer supports unpublished writers: all of the stories and poems in that collection are from published figures looking to promote their latest works.

The most frustrating thing, perhaps, is that contests prove nothing by the losers. In some cases, it proves nothing by the winners, either. I mean, books that win the Pulitzer Prize are usually good, but great books are great regardless of what prizes they don’t win, and awful books are awful regardless of prizes they do win. So my not winning these contests only means that the judge liked other poems better than mine–and in poetry, that can be a very subjective thing.

I still have two more contests to hear from, so maybe I’ll at least get an honorable mention for one of them. All I can do is continue to write and submit, write and submit.