yoinkned from someone's flickr.

yoinkned from someone’s flickr.

There’s this house on the corner of 6th and Euclid in Tucson, and emblazoned on its east side is a message: Happiness is submission to God. Periodically, someone appends a zilla to the end of it, which actually makes me happy to see the message. But they of course paint over the zilla, and then it’s back to piety as usual.

I’ve always interpreted “submission” in this message to mean obedience, which is why it rankles so much, but I think it is lots more interesting to interpret the word as “offering.” That transforms the directive from a passive state to an active one, with all kinds of resonance for people who do creative work. But I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean by it, so what can you do.

I’m on my summer round of submissions, and it’s unholy work.

One of the most hideous aspects of the process is determining when or whether to initiate a revision. I have a story that’s been rejected ten times (three with nice notes and/or invites to resubmit), and while I KNOW that it’s kind of arcless and sloppy around the edges, I’ve been reluctant to overhaul it. I mean, isn’t that part of its charm? There’s one particular passage that is frankly expository, no matter what kind of clothes I dress it in, and a couple nights ago I had a come-to-Jesus moment and realized that it just needs to go. Also, my options for placing this story get broader if I lop off a thousand words. So.

The best thing going for me in revising this story is my emotional distance from it. I apparently wrote it sometime in 2010, which is time enough for objectivity. Even then I knew it had its flaws. I have another story with worse stats (11 rejections, two notes, still out to three places) that I absolutely refuse to revise because I have conviction that I’ve achieved my goals with it and have taken it as far as it can go. This 2010 story, though…sigh.

I meant to work on it tonight but just couldn’t face it. And also! I figured that I had better come here to share happier news, which is that I have a story up on Paper Darts. Yes! It is true. And the illustrations are lovely.


One response to “Submission

  1. Sarah Simpson

    Hi, Liz! Did you know that “submission to God” is actually the meaning of the word “Islam”? I learned that just the other day while reading my multicultural counseling book. Congrats on the Paper Darts story! Will read it when I’m done with the multicultural counseling book!

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