Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #415: I Believe You

Asking Alice

Gazing into that wonderland
where everything is a bit curious,
I say to the girl on the other side
(the only way I’ve ever seen myself)
that I don’t believe her when she tells me
she will not fail;
I can only say
that I believe in her still.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 415

Daily Prompt: Twilight Zone

Photograph used with permission from Tammy and Johnny Salaza, admins. of the Facebook page: Pensacola LIFE–The Page

Photograph used with permission from Tammy and Johnny Salaza, admins. of the Facebook page: Pensacola LIFE–The Page

Though I may not be traveling through the Twilight Zone, I often feel like I’m stuck in the Land of Oz (especially when a guy who stabs out the eyes in the pictures of employees he doesn’t like gets “Employee of the Month”).  The world gets curiouser and curiouser sometimes.  I fall through the rabbit hole every time I go to sleep, for I am an avid dreamer, both in wakefulness and slumber.

I can’t recall too many weird things happening to me (met plenty of weird people), but I had a dream that was so real, I remember it still, for it chilled me to my very core.

To give some context, when I was six years old, we lived in Rota, Spain, due to my mother’s Navy career.  It wasn’t long after my brother was born in the winter of 1987, that I contracted spinal meningitis, losing all hearing in my left ear (something that comes in handy every once in awhile).  I don’t remember much about it, except that I always wanted apple juice.

Well, I dreamt my life had went on as it had, and that my husband and I went back to Spain to the school and found my old teacher, Mrs. Haran (at least, that’s what I remember her name being), who came across very cold.  I told her I was that girl who was so sick all those years ago–I wanted to thank her for having the whole class send all those drawings, wishing me well–and that’s when she told me that the girl I claimed to me had died twenty-five years ago.

I remember just being in shock, my husband comforting me, and everything going away.  I have often wondered how different my family’s life would have been without me (a sort of George Bailey contemplation).  I’ve heard the average person escapes death at least seven times in their lifetime, without their even knowing it.  I’ve also heard that more murders are committed at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other.  I hear so many things, I don’t know what to believe anymore.

A publisher’s market, not a writer’s market

Writers Market

So I ordered the 2013 edition of “The Writer’s Market” on amazon.com, at a third of the price of this year’s.  I’d wanted to get the e-edition (since I’m always on my computer when I’m editing), but I’d heard it was hard to navigate, so I settled for the print edition.

I go through phases with my writing–for awhile, I was tailoring all my work for submission to Harlequin romance (working on my Great American novel all the while, whatever that means), then I got into personal essays/creative nonfiction, and now I’m on a poetry kick, mainly because it works my brain in a different way, and I can dash it off and submit it pretty fast.

I just finished editing my collection of children’s nursery rhymes, which include fractured fairy tales (blended with Biblical allegories), fractured nursery rhymes, and my original “Just-So” stories (in the spirit of Rudyard Kipling), to name a few.  I’ve even included a “Shaggy God” story (“Allison’s Mirror:  A Twisted Retelling”) that combines the story of “Alice in Wonderland” with a Sci-Fi (or Scientology) point-of-view explaining how Adam and Eve hooked up.

I have taken a hiatus from entering fee-based contests for awhile.  Though I never lived them, I miss the days when publishers paid to print your work, rather than writers having to pay publishers just to read it.  Some of them are a racket, but others, I believe, just don’t make anything off subscriptions (I know plenty of people who write poetry, but read it?).  That’s why magazines like “Ladies Home Journal” and “Real Simple” can offer free contests with a big prize attached.  “The Writer’s Digest” offers several contests, but you have to pay (and pay big) to win.  However, there is hope in getting published with them and not having to pay (but neither do you get paid):   http://www.writersdigest.com/submission-guidelines.  You can also submit to “The Huffington Post” here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScrz0kcSTcl6MrGJF-13l2MMSZJ3BBZtt6_znfxb4FwMLQiSQ/viewform, where you will get exposure, but again, no cash.  If you don’t mind writing for free for awhile (what is most blogging, after all?), then these will simply serve as publication credits to add to your “clip file”.

Though I realize it’s important to invest in ourselves (sometimes that means moneywise), and that when we buy a lottery ticket, it’s a gamble, I am still leery of shelling out too much money at one time for an entry/reading fee.  I’m going to exhaust all other options first, which is why I bought “The Writer’s Market”.

One exception I made was paying ten dollars to enter the Saturday Evening Post’s “Great American Short Story Contest”.  See:  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/12/06/more-good-news/.  Receiving an honorable mention (to me) in a magazine like that was like winning first place in a magazine no one has ever heard of.  The only disappointment was that my story was not in print, but rather in an online anthology.  (Print is just far more prestigious.)

That said, the absolute best, up-to-date source I’ve found for finding submission opportunities that don’t charge is http://writingcareer.com/.

Moreover, it can pay to be a college student, as there is a plethora of scholarships which require a written essay.  Scholarships are great because the pool of possible winners is much smaller (at least half of them require you to be a full-time student), so you have a better chance of winning.  Beware, however, as some are based on how many “votes” you get, but if you’re a social media butterfly, those might be the ones for you:

http://www.varsitytutors.com/college-scholarship
https://www.coursehero.com/scholarships/1000012/tier-3k-aug/
http://www.fastweb.com/
https://www.scholarships.com/
https://www.chegg.com/
https://www.cappex.com/
https://www.unigo.com/
http://myscholly.com/#scholly
(this costs $2.99, but it’s worth it)
https://scholarshipowl.com/my-account
(just get the list, but don’t pay; rather google the name of the scholarship)

So there are still a multitude of ways to make money at writing without breaking the bank.  Hope this helps!

Sarah Lea, a fellow undernourished blogger