Tag Archives: day to day

the empty seat at the table

Lina Jaros Series titled “Beyond the Walls”

i looked at my cell phone. mom called. i didn’t hear the phone ring. i purposely set the ringer to silent. hearing merry Christmas or happy anything makes me a bundle of nerves. the holidays remind me of family. i try to distance my family to keep the unspoken things between us unspoken. how do you articulate mom i’m gay over the Christmas turkey. mom that’s why i have never brought a woman home for the holidays. holidays are too awkward as a gay black man. there’s always an empty seat at the table.

i tend to disappear around the holidays. they remind me how lonely gay life can be. the longest relationship i’ve had lasted one year. we were young and thought we loved each other. i think we loved the idea of being intimate more. relationship building was a foreign language to me.

my dislike for holidays started in 99. my boyfriend and i were in college in atlanta. we were inseparable. i was supposed to spend the holiday with my family. i decided to spend time with my boyfriend instead. he had an apartment off-campus near lenox mall. i remember calling my grandmother saying that i would call her on Christmas eve. i didn’t call her. i didn’t call on Christmas either. i called the day after Christmas. i said i would call her the next day. i didn’t. i stayed at my boyfriend’s apartment until new years day. we watched the countdown on TV drinking Asti Spumanti champagne (I threw the cork and label away two years ago) and fell asleep on his fire engine red sofa bed. i caught the marta and bus to my grandmother’s house in stone mountain. the garage door was open, which wasn’t strange. i saw grandma on the cordless phone talking. she looked upset like she was crying. she was crying. she looked up at me, jumped up, and gave me a big hug. i thought someone had died. she thought i had died or something tragic happened to me because i didn’t call her. that stayed with me for a long time.

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When does the editing process stop

Letter from Lady Helena Gleichen addressing th...

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I think getting rejected by literary agents has made me a better writer.

My first rejection came two years ago. I was waiting on my editor to send me his inked up thoughts on the last five chapters. I had the publishing bug. I couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted to be published no matter what my editor thought. I submitted a query letter to an agent at Writer’s House. I studied some website I googled on how to write a query letter and wrote what I thought was brilliant.

Hardcore rapper 50 Cent meets Zane and realizes he’s gay

Dear agent,

Xitonce (pronounced existence), my novel, is an urban story about a young African American male caught in a love triangle with a man who suffers from panic attacks and a politician on the down low (dl) running for public office. From their story, a gripping story unfolds from a love letter that catapults the reader through an unforgettable tale of Detroit’s Black upper class community, homophobia in Peru, faking a marriage to gain citizenship, and two detectives trying to find a sadistic killer.

Like all urban novels Xitonce includes personal reflection, sex, crime, and revenge. However it veers from other works such that five very different characters reveal through their own stories how there are no coincidences in life but a single line of events that connect people.

Xitonce is one of few down low fiction works that is literary first, where many down low books falter and written to appeal to the mainstream literary audience. The result is a roller coaster showing how emotions can lead people to the lower depths of society.

As a young writer, I am looking for an experienced agent and I am thoroughly impressed with your agency.

The novel is 48,338 and fully complete. I am sending you the first five pages of Xitonce as stated in your submission guidelines.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

The agent responded less than five yours later.

Thanks, but I’m afraid this isn’t right for me.

By the way, the manuscript looks too short. Most novels should be closer to 70,000 words at least.

I was upset at first but relieved too. It wasn’t time for my book to be released.

I started sending out a new query letter two years after I sent my query to Writer’s House. I have received about five rejection letters. With each letter, I have thought over some of the dialogue and descriptive paragraphs that didn’t flow or fit well with the rest of the story. I have revised almost 20 chapters since I thought I was finished with the book.

Last week, I sent off an updated query letter to my editor. My last query letter was a little boring. I let my editor reader it. He said it wasn’t suspenseful enough. I rewrote it and rewrote it. The final current version is more suspenseful than the other versions have been.

I wanted to get my editor’s approval before sending off the new query letter to another agent. One agent I was interested in sending a query letter too requests that new writers send her the first 50 pages of their work. I reread chapter 3 (pages 30-49) and realized that I didn’t love the chapter.

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snapshots of an unpublished life

tuesday

9:30am

my cell phone rings. it’s birthday boy. i look at his name. i reach to press the talk button and stop myself. i’m not answering his calls. i’ll call him tomorrow. birthday boy said we’d hang out saturday when we talked on wednesday. we talked on thursday and friday. saturday-nothing. sunday-nothing. he called monday twice. i didn’t answer. i think two days of silent treatment is enough to generate a new brain cell for birthday boy to remember victor hates being stood up.

10am

i sent my editor the seventh draft of my query letter yesterday. i got an im from him saying he didn’t get it. i forwarded him the email and sent the query letter in fragments through im.

10:05am

read dlisted

New York Apartment

11am

on a depression scale i feel very dickinson almost peeking to hemingway

12:30pm

i print out chapter 15. i made a note to myself to revise chapter 15. chapter 15 was chapter 2 in the first draft of my book. it’s one of my favorites. it talks about the oppression of gays through two historical characters

2pm

i finish working on chapter 15 and move to 20. chapter 20 is not a favorite chapter of mine.

4pm

my editor hasn’t responded yet.

4:30pm

chpater 20 is becoming a favorite chapter.

5pm

i finished 20 and move to 23.

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An imitation of an imitation that’s broken

City Bus

I waited about fifteen minutes. Sweat dripped down my lower back to my shorts. The driver mumbled hello under his breath. He looked like he’d been left out in the rain all night. Pale, bloated face, wrinkles creasing the corners of his eyes and pot-bellied. The seats in front were filled. Normally, I sit in front.

A man grilled an even tempered woman behind me. Her southern accent was heavy. She was either from Georgia or Florida. So do they want you to join the program, the man asked her. They only have room for me if I get a job by Friday, the woman said. She had four days. They want you to join the program. Only if I get a job, she said even tempered. I was annoyed. Why. I don’t fit their criteria for the drug abuse program. They only have room for case management.

The bus sped up approaching the bridge. I see two skinny Asian guys sitting in the front two seats. Two Asian guys behind them. The Asian sitting in the front seat, with a buzz cut, he turns around, peeping over his shoulder at the Asian to his left. He’s talking on his cell phone. His hair is jet black, low on the sides, and thicker, bushier at the top, and uneven. A Super Cuts creation I’m sure. I had a bad experience with them. I started shaving my head bald after that. The Asian sitting next to him, his long jet black hair is pulled back in a pony tail. He has on a tight fitted gray shirt. His shoulders are broad.

They only have room for me if I get a job, the even tempered woman says again. I don’t fit the criteria. I’m not in the drug abuse program. If I get a job they’ll put me in the case management program. They can’t keep me if I don’t. Because they want to $5 a week, the man says. No. Because I’m not eligible to be there. They don’t have room for me. Unless I get a job.

The bus isn’t moving fast enough.

The Asian guy on the cell phone closes his phone. He glances over at me at the same time I look in his direction. He’s Mexican not Asian. The guy sitting beside him looks back. He’s Mexican too. He turns back around and leans over looking for a street sign or a landmark. They both careen their necks out looking down the street out the front og the bus.

It’s a chapel, a man says beside me in a deep voice. He’s talking to the even tempered woman and the man grilling her. I turn. He’s black. Oh, the man grilling the woman says. We’re going to get married someday. Oh yeah, the black man says. Yeah. Hopefully, the woman says as if exhausted. But in water. In water, the black man laughs. He pushes air out the back of his tongue. An imitation of someone talking under water. The man grilling the woman imitates him. They both laugh. No. On a boat. A steam boat, the woman says. Oh, the black man says through laughing. I smile too. Will I get married someday?

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The Unpublished Writer’s Query Waiting Game

Dhalgren

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My hands are starting to hurt. I don’t know if it’s from sitting behind a computer all day or the way my office desk is setup. The pain makes me forget to check my email. I have probably checked my email at least fifty times today. I queried Alyson Books on June 30. Alyson is one of the leading LGBT publishers. I know it’s too early to expect a response but I expect a response. Alyson probably gets over a hundred queries every month. I am focusing my enegry on getting published. When I wake up in the morning, I think about getting published. Before I go to bed at night, I write and think about getting published.

It’s been a little over three years since I wrote the first sentence of my first novel. I started writing it not knowing anything about writing. My editor got a hold of the first draft. He didn’t get past the first paragraph. I was witing like a romantic. Long, romantic senetences that meant nothing. To understand writing, I devuldged myself in reading.

I read The Lovely Bones.

I read Middlesex. One of my favorites book.

I read Dhalgren. Dhalgren changed the way I saw litearture and writing.

I read Hogg. At the airport nonetheless. I covered the cover so no one could see. Such terrible acts yet such beauty in language.

I read The Crimson White and the Petal. This book made me fall in love with language.

I started writing all day long. Three years later I sent it off to ten literary agents and two publishers. I am working on a new proposal to send to a smaller publisher in D.C.

I wasn’t prepared for the waiting.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Gay Man

spanish man road crosser

Image by jbiddulph.com via Flickr

I walked in knowing I shouldn’t have gone. Gay clubs are depressing when you don’t drink and when you’re alone. I met a guy, a Spanish guy, name Alberto, last Thursday at a straight bar. He grabbed my shirt as I walked by. We danced together. He wanted to dance. I didn’t. It was so uncomfortable. I imagined no one was looking. Alberto sent me a text message. I’m going to the club. I want to see you I responded. He didn’t respond back. I called. He didn’t pick up. I decided to go. Two the women at the cash register gestured with her fingers. Her hair was teased and gelled and curled in a circa 1980’s redneck do. I looked at around. The red lights accentuated the smiles of the older men at the closest bar. The older men were posted at the front bar. Inside, the younger men crowded around the larger bar. I passed two empty rooms. The feeling in my stomach dropped. I couldn’t see Alberto. I scanned the front of the bar. Henry. I could spot Henry anywhere. Henry is a man I see off and on. I knew I would see him. Even though he claims he hates the gay club. He whispered in the ear of a waif twink. The feeling tightened. I wanted to leave. I looked back at the red room. A hat floating caught my eye. Between the hat, a cute, chubby face. Alberto. He walked into the other room, circled the bar, walked past Henry, gave him a look of recognition, and walked around. We hugged. I think I going to leave I said. I just got here. I need a drink he said. He walked to the bar in the red room. I pulled out a chair in between both rooms. Henry was gone. I looked over. I couldn’t see Alberto. I saw Henry talking to a different man. I walked behind me. I wanted him to hug me. He walked to my side, in front of me, and turned around. I didn’t see you he said. Whatever I said. He extended his arms out. I turned away. Don’t be shady he said. I hugged him the way I wanted to hug Alberto. Tight. Close. Intimate. I wish more gay men hugged like this. I called you. You didn’t pick up he said. Whatever I said. Don’t he said. I’m leaving in a minute. Let me find my friend and I’ll leave too. I looked around for Albeurto. All I saw were single men everywhere. I felt disgusted. Why aren’t more gay men in relationships? I looked around again. There was nothing else left to see.

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Driving Under the Influence of Fear

They say bikes get in the way of traffic

Copyright richardmasoner

I gripped the steering wheel trying to press his number. I haven’t mastered the art of using a cell phone and driving at the same time. I got my license six months ago. That part of driver’s ed was omitted purposely by my instructor, Mr. Green. For what reason I do not know. Mr. Green is a tire expert. Mr. Green taught us that people die in car accidents because of two things. Losing control of their car and speeding. On the first day, he told the class when someone died in a car accident he was called to the scene, which I thought was rather odd. Why would a driver’s ed instructor be called on the scene. Mr. Green also owns a funeral home. At the time, when I heard this it didn’t make an impression on me. I was trying to remember what was the brake and what was the accelerator. The SUV in front of me braked hard. My leg shook. I looked at the license plate, the red flashing lights, back at the license plate. BGREEN. I eased back into my seat. Mr. Green didn’t see me.

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