fear, lit mags, personal growth, weirderary, writing

Goodbye, weirderary

Yesterday, I wrote a goodbye post for weirderary, the online literary magazine I began with friends and classmates back in 2015. (I’ve blogged about it a few times before.)

Creating weirderary was fun, and I’m glad we did it. First-hand experience is an excellent teacher, and I learned so much reading the thousands (yes, thousands!) of submissions we received, editing those we selected, conducting interviews, and writing book reviews. I’m grateful I gained that experience and also proud of myself for pushing forward and starting a lit mag in the first place–something I’d wanted to do since high school but hadn’t, for various reasons, but mostly fear.

After us three weirderary editors graduated from the MFA program we were in and began seeing each other much less often, I could feel the energy and excitement around weirderary fizzling. Instead of the thrilling endeavor it felt like before, it became, to me at least, unpaid labor. A pile of tasks. And they weren’t horrible tasks, sometimes they felt rewarding, but when I looked at my overarching career, I knew they weren’t the best tasks I could do with my limited free time in order to move the direction I want to move.

When I was trying to decide if I should let weirderary go or not, I tried to envision the future best case scenario. It involved a lot of work on my end, with a disproportionately small reward. It also involved missed opportunities.

Being an independent lit mag editor is a labor of love, and I now understand why so many small lit mags don’t have staying power. I’m writing about all of this openly here because I think the burnout and at times even resentment editors can feel are things people don’t often talk about with transparency. (Hmm, should I write an essay about that?) I loved weirderary when we began it, and I love it still, now, but I think if I’d stuck with it another year or two, that love would’ve soured.

Thanks to anyone who read it. Stay tuned…I’ll soon announce my newest endeavors.

Standard
creative nonfiction, fibromyalgia, health, ibs, migraine, pots, writing

New publication in MTV Fit

New publication: Staying Fit with Chronic Illness Required Me to Redefine “Exercise”

A friend shared a link to a (secret?) Google doc containing a compilation of tweets from editors looking for pitches. When I saw an editor at MTV Fit (a fitness vertical on MTV’s UK site) was looking for health- and fitness-related essays, I spontaneously pitched her one on exercising with chronic illness in that moment. She said yes!

This was exciting for me. I’ve only pitched a couple of times (that’s how I had the Marie Claire article published), and because my background is in creative writing, not journalism, I still feel like I’m sort of faking it when I send a pitch.

I’ve been submitting to lit mags for a while now and I feel like I have the hang of submitting. It’s relatively easy and mostly repetitive. You submit whatever you’ve written, in full, along with a short cover letter that is more or less copied and pasted aside from a personalized sentence or two.

Pitching, however, is a whole different ball game. The cover letter isn’t a formality–it’s the entire thing. Lit mag editors often purposely avoid reading cover letters accompanying submissions until after they’ve made a decision. Mainstream editors reading pitches generally make their decision based on the cover letter–the pitch–alone.

Lately I’ve been writing more personal essay than fiction, so I see a lot of pitching in my future.

 

Standard
art, Florida

My art is on display!

Last week, I hung my art up in Kaleisia Tea Lounge in Tampa, where it will stay for two months.  If you live in the area, please check it out. If you like it, consider buying some. I priced it super low because I’m hoping to sell it all. I’m hoping that was wise and doesn’t instead give people the feeling that it’s low value. I’m new to all of this.

jay vera summer art

Kaleisia has delicious food. I’ve been mostly vegan for over year, and Kaleisia is one of my favorite local spots for vegan meals (they have non-vegan food, too). I almost always get “Vegan set B,” which contains all of the items on the tray pictured below as well as a tea. It’s too much to eat in one sitting, so I either take the veggie straws home or just sit in Kaleisia doing work and spread my meal out over a few hours.

kaleisia food

I’m trying to practice enjoying my accomplishments more, so I plan on visiting Kaleisia often while my art is up, looking at my own art on the wall and feeling warm feelings about it each time. It’s so easy to rush past accomplishments and focus instead on what’s next, what else I want that I don’t have, what other benchmarks I’m trying to reach.

A year ago, the idea of my art hanging in a local restaurant was nearly unthinkable. I didn’t even feel comfortable calling myself an artist and although I consistently shared my art on instagram, I was forcing myself to do so and felt a pang of fear and self-consciousness each time.

Even now, I can feel the striving part of my mind wanting to dismiss my art in a restaurant as unimportant. That part of me wants to say a restaurant isn’t enough for me to feel good about–I need to make money, or publish a book of art, or have my art hang in a gallery, instead.

While all of those are lovely aspirations that I hope are realized one day, I’m telling that part of my mind–the part that says whatever I have now isn’t enough–to kindly fuck off. My art is in a local restaurant and that is not only enough, that is damn exciting. That art is meaningful to me and didn’t come out easy, and now it’s hanging in a place that I love.

Standard