is Pandora’s box, is a false bottom, is essential. Is an open palm–even if pried, finger by finger–and an open mind–even at the risk of losing it altogether. Is to relinquish what you were certain was all yours: free will; personal space; emotional independence; your art. Is an uncomfortable exposure, a public nakedness, an objectification.
Submission is the virgin’s dive into the volcano.
* * *
Over months, perhaps even years, the pen has courted the page. One gave, one accepted. They were gracious; they were at odds. They were unabashed, then apologetic. They created a life, then left me with it. They’ve moved on to other mating rituals, other memories; the pen and the page are migrants, gypsies, pilgrims.
But the life they’ve left behind is my responsibility, and I have been dutiful, keeping my promises, even after I had grown too attached to simply let go when the time came, as I told them I would.
It was whole, fully formed, complete—or complete enough to survive without my constant tending. Its paragraphs no longer needed pruning. Its sentences could manage their own cowlicks. Its chapters crossed their legs and sat properly. It behaved, but also knew when to rebel.
I re-read it once, this living thing, this manuscript, this daughter. Just once, for errors, for reasons to hold it back. But at all turns it held up, held its own, and I knew it was time to submit.
I gave it, like Hannah gave Samuel: freely but with great trepidation.
* * *
There is something sacral in the ending. You reach it and do not know how it arrived. Now here you are, with something arduous and wonderful behind you, and some great and glowing mystery ahead. The prospects, both for what you have just accomplished and for what you are about to undertake, are exceedingly vast.
And becomes clear: whether you are ready or not, someone will publish you. Someone will read and represent you. Someone will advocate for the proliferation of your work—even if that someone must be you.
This is only the case because you have been brave. This is only the case because you have submitted.
* * *
There are people to thank. We achieve nothing alone–and gratitude should not be reserved only for the inner flaps of published books. It should begin at the inception of a battle, not held until after a victory. It should begin long before the page reserved for acknowledgments. It should be ongoing.
Thank you to each reader. Thank you to those who have commented. Thanks to the people who’ve alerted someone to this blog’s existence. Thank you to PostBourgie and HuffPo and Clutch and the other publications who’ve provided me with a platform, however temporary, or who have allowed me to feel what it’s like to be monetarily compensated for my creative writing (which is, really, all I’ve ever wanted in my professional life). Thank you to the woman I’ve never met who heeded her dream and the voice that told her the dream was about me; thank you for sending the gift. Thanks to my daughter for being a wellspring and an education, to my mother for helping me raise her, to her father for being gracious about my need to tell our story; to my nana for being a stalwart; to all of my family for their continued investments, both financial and emotional. I can be difficult, and you are all lovely enough to overlook it.
I am thanking you now, because thanks is owed you. I would have submitted nothing–not time, not vulnerability, not perseverance–were it not for you. I would have succumbed to everything–to fear, to shame, to self-doubt, to second-guessing–were it not for you.
When the manuscript I’ve finally finished writing is picked up—and because many of you have told me it will be, I am choosing to be courageous enough to believe you—just know that it absolutely would not have been (because I would’ve been too terrified to submit it to anyone at all), without the encouragement and engagement of every one of you.