I'm Afraid This One is All About Me (Aren't They All?)

I received a friendly rejection from Copper Nickel. They were very interested, they want to see more. They will. Oh how they will. They will see so much they will fall in love with my writing and say, “Roxane Gay, we want to publish you.”  Or they won't but still, they will see so much more.

I have a story in Buffalo ArtVoice called Ayudame. I wrote it for my friend Sean Doyle who wanted me to tell him a story late one night and so I did. I also have an essay about my first (and only) Jheri Curl, in Defunct Magazine. Finally, I have a story in Guernica, a magazine I greatly admire and have always wanted to be a part of. This story, I wrote for xTx. What can I say? My friends inspire me.

I received a second Pushcart Prize nomination for the coming year, this time by Emprise Review for my story The Small Tragedies of Children. My first nomination was for How in Annalemma 6. That means I now have twice the chance to not win! I am, though, very happy to be nominated but I won't bullshit you. I totes want to win a Pushcart. Why? WHY NOT?

If this blog post were anymore solipsistic, I don't know, I'd share some pap smear results and we'd have a nice chat about that.

On Friday night, I drove to Chicago where I participated in a reading with my co-editor Matt, Elizabeth Hildreth, and other people I don't know, to launch Issue 2 of Artifice Magazine. I was, as you might expect, terrified. It was my first time. I knew it would hurt a little.  We left around 2:25 and I was worried we wouldn't make it in time because of traffic, but it was smooth sailing all the way and we got there in less than three hours. We had interesting conversation. We didn't argue which is what we do approx. 97% of the time we're together. He's conservative and I am, well, decidedly not. Anyway, we walked around Lincoln Square while waiting for the event to start, then had a snack at a Greek restaurant. There was Ouzo involved but I took one tiny sip, realized that was way out of my league and made my friend finish my shot too. Then I had some Grand Marnier, which I sipped and continued to freak out. I excused myself to the restroom to puke and then we went to the Book Cellar where I saw Rebekah! And Tadd! And Jac Jemc! And Kathleen Rooney! And Others! Lots and lots of Others!

The venue was very hot.

I mean, seriously, they basically had the heat on in there and I was so anxious and my heart was pounding and I thought well, “I'm going to die in Chicago. At least I know the where of how my life ends.” The reading started pretty late, maybe half an hour, and there were like 100 or more people in the space which was not large. I could not breathe. I was ready to just walk out. I need to figure out how to

get my stage fright under control because it is exhausting. My friend said I was going to be great and I wanted to puke in his face but I did not. A woman read something about Yoko Ono that I didn't really understand but I honestly barely heard a word of it because I was busy worrying about myself, and I'm talking about that on my blog. My solipsism knows no boundaries.

I read second so when it was my turn, I stood up and moved to the front of the room and stared out at the massive audience and thought, “Please don't let me die right now, God. What will happen to my body?” I worry about that sort of thing. I gripped my story with a power death grip and said, “This is my first time reading, be gentle,” and then I read my story, Bare Chested Men in Public Make Me Uncomfortable. I literally could feel my heart POUNDING. Like, I worried it might break some ribs. It was the most uncomfortable 3.5 minutes of my life but I kind of rocked it by pretending I was a beautiful sunflower. I love sunflowers.  Then people paid me compliments like, “You killed it,” and “You owned the room,” and on. I do enjoy compliments. My friend said I was great and loved my story which surprised me and was nice.

It took like 30 minutes for me to calm down. That is, I was still freaking out AFTER I read. I don't remember much of what I said to anyone. I hope I wasn't embarrassing. Another guy read. His name was Dave and he was insanely attractive. He could be in GQ or Vogue Homme. I listened to him read and thought, “What an attractive man.”  There was an intermission, three more people read. Elizabeth Hildreth read a hilarious blog entry where she was emailing with a friend (that happened to be me haha) about being nervous about reading. Matt Seigel read some brilliant excerpts from his forthcoming book (TYPECAST 2010 bitches) and I loved everything about his work. I like his reading style. He's so tall. One has nothing to do with the other.  The last guy who read, Fred Sasaki (sp) was very hilarious and also absurdly attractive. That doesn't matter but hey, my eyes don't mind being happy.  He's Polish. If you were there, sharing this detail makes sense. I cannot wait to find more of his work. This was, by far, the best reading I've ever attended. I felt like I learned alot about what to read and what not to read. You have to pick something engaging and sexy and/or funny, otherwise, I don't know that you can keep an audience interested.

I was supposed to go to a wedding for one of my favorite people in the world this weekend but the past six months have been what I like to refer to as financial hemorrhaging. Moving is no damn joke. After last week's trip to the Northern Kingdom and all the other trips, and the weird ways of university pay, I had to stay put this weekend. It's a bummer. I miss my friends.

A man in a tractor is driving through the field behind my apartment.

I have more grading than I can handle. Today is a day for grading triage. Read, assign grade, move on. Alas, it always comes to this.


8 comments on “I'm Afraid This One is All About Me (Aren't They All?)

  1. This makes me stupid excited about this weekend. Bummed you couldn’t make it to Champaign for Burch’s reading, but at least there’ll be this Saturday. Unless the world is a whimper.

  2. Congratulations on the Pushcart nom! I love the uneasiness and honesty of The Small Tragedies of Children. Reminds me of those mothers who drown their children.

  3. Yeah, just to go ahead and reiterate this: You were great. Thanks for coming to read. Also? Your new man is totally hot. Maybe that’s not the sort of thing you want people saying on your blog, because it’s like personal in a way that’s not about writing? If you take down this comment that is okay. But he was pretty hot.

    Also I am going to direct Dave Welch to this post, so that he can see himself described as GQ or Vogue Homme-level attractive.

    See you next weekend!

  4. Congrats on your first reading, a major milestone, and everything else that came with the night :-) It’s all cruising from here.

  5. Roxane- congrats on the pushcart noms! Also, I’ve read many times- sometimes its Ok- but lately, not so. I am just like you, except that I also shake really really badly. Might try beta blockers. Anyway- I feel for you- it’s not a good feeling to put it mildly. BUT- how cool to get into Chicago and see your colleagues and have such a great reading! Good for you. I’m thinking this IL thing is going to work out really well.

  6. congrats on the pushcart noms. someday I’ll have one and then i’ll get the t-shirt hehe

    i was shaking so bad the first time i went to an open mike but now i actually look forward to readings! i think you’ll get there :)

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