I’ve made no progress on Chasing After Rainbows. Truthfully, I’ve been focusing so much on everything for the surgery that I feel creatively inept. I sincerely hope that changes after the surgery, though, because I’ve still got a lot to do to even have my first draft ready.

Days like today make me want to throw up my hands and scream. Somehow, I saved over the best blog I had last month and just realized it today. On what I guess is the bright side, my webmaster hadn’t gotten to last month’s blogs, so it was put up on the website that way. Now you’ll never read the (really kinda brilliant) blog that I wrote about the John Mellencamp concert that I saw at The Ryman Auditorium in early May. I swear, I hate technology sometimes… (I did the same thing with the first blog I wrote today, too, so that one is gone now, as well. I already felt like puking; now I’m ready to hug the toilet out of sheer frustration, plus the effects of no real food for a week.)

But there has been some positive news in my writing life. I edited a piece that I started in Darnell’s April Mining the Motherlode class, “Purples,” and feel pretty good about it. I’ve got Darnell looking over it, so we’ll see what she thinks soon, I hope. I’m thinking of entering it into the Women of Appalachia Project, which will be open for submissions on June 29 and June 30. I’m never quite sure what will work well for that project, and I do so love being part of it.

I was accepted for the Appalachian Writers Workshop at Hindman this Summer. I will be in Creative Nonfiction with Shawna Kay Rodenberg, who, if you’ve read my blogs in the past year at all, you’ll know I love and whose work I think is amazing. I submitted four short sections of Chasing After Rainbows, which is both exciting and scary. I’m never quite sure how they will be received by others, but I guess it’s good practice for what lies ahead for the memoir, if I’m ever going to get it finished and hopefully find a publisher. I will be staying at a Comfort Suites in Prestonsburg, KY, for lodging that week, though, as they had a record number of applicants (about 135) and only have 72 sleeping spaces. Honestly, I think that rooming alone will be good for me this year, especially since I have no clue what my body is going to do after the surgery on Monday. One person with one bathroom sounds much more appealing than 20-30 people to two bathrooms. I will also be taking my own food and drinks. I pray that it all goes well. Yes, I’m very apprehensive about different parts of the experience, for various reasons. But I am thrilled to be going back for another year.

I also have a story appearing in a forthcoming Fall-release anthology of ghost stories from Howling Hills Press. It’s a “true” ghost story, as are the other 22 pieces appearing in the book, which will be titled 23 Tales: Appalachian Ghost Stories, Legends, and Other Mysteries. This one is from a story that Papaw Little used to tell about a hitchhiker he picked up once while traveling home from work in Michigan on the West Virginia Turnpike.

I also found out this week that one of my Ekphrastic Friday poems from the 7:00 a.m. group that I’m part of (when I make it to the Zoom), received 2nd Place in this year’s Wytheville Chautauqua Festival Writing Contests. Each Friday, our fearless leader, Connie, gives us a prompt, usually a visual, like a painting by an artist of some notoriety, and we write about it. That’s what ekphrastic writing is – it’s writing based on another form of art, be it a painting, sculpture, music, etc. I’ve come to love these Friday sessions, and they’ve really brought out a poetry streak for me. “On a Perfect Night” is my first in this ekphrastic series and is based on a painting by William Hawkins. I was really pleased – and somewhat surprised – to place second in the poetry contest, since poetry is not typically my strong suit.

There have been several rejections, too. Nothing I wrote placed with the West Virginia Writers contest. In fact, only one piece by one person in our 7:00 a.m. writing group did place (congratulations, Connie). So, that brings my rejection count up to 19 now. I’ve had only 6 acceptances or placements in contests. It has been a somewhat disappointing year. I’ve banked a lot on my edited version of “Handkerchiefs,” though, and it has not achieved much of anything. It may or may not ever find a home in print. It’s discouraging, because I’ve worked on so many revisions of it. The year isn’t quite half over, though, so I will keep trying. It took almost two years to find a print home for both “Buddy” and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The difference there, though, was that they both continued to do well in contests. Fingers crossed for the next batch of things I send out at the end of June… I still have 12 pieces out at three different places that I’m waiting to hear about. I may just have to face the reality that this year was meant to hit that “rejections” goal and not to receive as many acceptances as I usually do. I have also concentrated more on the memoir this year than submitting to things other than contests.

At any rate, I am still finding small pockets of success. I’m pleased with that. And it makes those moments even sweeter when there are three times more rejections than successes.

In addition to Hindman, I have Table Rock Writers Workshop coming up at the end of August-beginning of September. I will be in Denton’s class for that and am really looking forward to working with him again this Summer at that workshop. And there’s still Chasing After Rainbows to finish a draft of. I need to find my concentration for that work again and get on it. It’s past time to finish it.