Mitch asked if I could post the poem I mentioned earlier this evening, the one that ETS used. It was first published in the October 2000 issue of Cicada, though I think I wrote it when I was seventeen, or so:
In My Mind
In my mind, there are only
hallowed halls, untraceable
as myth, but dear to me.
Here I roam, and may
my blood run cold
before my mind’s feet
fail to go.
There is ivy here, and legends fair
of my own making, and I love the secret
paths, the infinity of choice that my thoughts
may empower for better or for worse.
Flowers bloom at times
some weeds are found confined
but not a living thing
goes lonely here, in
the halls, in the home,
this labyrinth of my
Maybe someday I’ll
map it out, my thoughts,
all subjects felt, but then again,
such things are better left
unsaid, to either rot or grow,
in the fervent sunshine
of the beholder’s soul.
Incidentally, ETS asked me to change the last word, soul, because they thought some of the students would be offended by it. Honestly, I can’t remember what I used instead. Only, it was a real pain to come up with something that worked.
Elizabeth, one of my readers, wrote in with some questions:
When you first started writing and gave your manuscript to a publisher it must have been nerve racking?
Yes, and no. I wasn’t afraid of rejection, because I was just so stubborn about the whole thing. I knew that I wanted to write for a living, and that I would—eventually—no matter what. So I kept my chin up, sent out my submissions, and then went on with my daily routine.
And I kept writing. Always keep writing, no matter what. Even when you send out your manuscript, keep writing. Generate those ideas. Make them live.
Any tips for when I’m ready?
Really do your research into what the agents and publishers want. Research formatting, guidelines, the whole nine yards. And be professional. No gimmicks. Let the quality of your writing speak for itself.