In September I received news that an essay I have been writing for more than ten years was finally accepted for publication. Grande Dame Literary published “Cornered” on September 17, 2022.
I was so astounded by this news, my husband, who overheard my gasp, thought someone must have died. No, I assured him, this was a happy occasion. But my nine-year-old daughter, Nancy, who is oh-so-sweet and intuitive and also a fellow writer, understood it was more complicated than that. It was also bittersweet.
The day after I got the acceptance email, Nancy saw me in the kitchen. She congratulated me for the tenth time. Then she asked, “Are you a little sad you don’t get to work on it anymore?”
I had to admit I was. The words of Indigo Montoya came to mind. After so many years of working on it, what was I going to do now?
It’s not like I had been working on just this one thing all this time. Of course not. Reflecting on what had transpired over the past ten years, I realized I have had several pieces published since I first submitted “Cornered” back in 2011, here, here, and here. I wrote Perfect Bound and Freelancing as a Business, as well as other smaller ebooks. But all the while, “Cornered” was lurking.
In fact, what ended up being “Cornered” is the combination of two essays that I wrote separately, both on the theme of being followed by strange men. In 2016, when I was harassed yet again, I had a new frame for the stories. In 2021, I wove together the original “Cornered” and “Blaze Orange,” added the new story from 2016, and voila, I had my masterpiece.
Well, sort of.
The new essay was rejected more than a dozen times over the next year. I revised it modestly each time. I knew I was getting close because the journals kept saying I had made it to the final round before they decided against it. I felt I was so close, I decided to pay for feedback from one journal just so I could finally get it over the finish line. That, it turned out, was a waste of money. My luck was finding the right beta reader.
In July 2022, my friend and fellow writer Katherine Melvin offered to read the essay. She had already helped me out with other things, most notably Mystery at Creek Academy: Where Is Mrs. Quimby?, and I was reluctant to lean on her again. But, I told myself she wouldn’t have offered if she didn’t want to do it.
Katherine had three small, crucial changes to the essay. I made those changes, sent out the essay again, and finally, finally, it was accepted.
It is a relief to have it out in the world. There were some hiccups with the initial publication (HTML does not always do what you want it to do), but I worked with the journal and together we were able to fix problems.
I am very proud of how it turned out. Not only that, but a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. With this other work published, I have more ideas for new essays to write. Some already in revisions. Best of all, my persistence and hard work paid off, and that feels really, really good!
You can read “Cornered” here.
All your years of work (and good feedback) paid off! “Cornered” is a powerful piece of writing that evokes visceral memories for most any woman (or any member of a vulnerable group). It made my pulse quicken and my stomach contract, connecting with that fear. Love the steps you took for self-protection.