Sending Out Manuscripts and 10 Years in Aikido

So you’re wondering, what does this title mean?  As I send out my collection manuscript over and over and keep getting rejected, I think back to something I heard from one of the visiting writers when I was an MFA.  That many poets have their first book at 30.  I have no idea if that’s true and have no data to show me otherwise (that being said if you have such data, please let me know because I’m curious).  I’m 44 and still trying to get it published.  But I also really didn’t start trying until I was about 38 or 39.  The collection itself was mostly complete sometime in my late-20’s and then there’s this black hole where nothing happened.  From 1997 until 2007, I spent the vast majority of my time away from writing.  I did write and I did submit to magazines and journals.  I did get stuff published.  During those 10 years, I added maybe 20% of new material to the collection.  But it went no where.

On the other hand, in that same time period I received my shodan, nidan, and sandan (first-, second-, and third-degree black belts) in aikido.  Which is a totally different achievement, and probably just as hard.  So like with my student loans (which during graduate school, I joked was my Lexus), my sandan was my first book.  I’m posting this to remind myself, not to complain about it so much.  I made a life decision that I’m happy with.  Sort of.  Because I really want my real first book.

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