Monday, June 8, 2015

Confession Time: I'm Mad

(PSA: mini York peppermint patties are like little tablets of ambrosia set with the flavor imparted from being served in the Holy Grail.) 
"The British have always been madly overambitious, and from one angle it can seem like bravery, but from another it looks suspiciously like a lack of foresight." -Ben Aaronovitch Whispers Under Ground 
I know nothing about the book from which Goodreads helpfully pulled the quote which towers above your page, but I do know that according to it, I must be British. See, I suffer from a distinct madness called Leaping Before I Look. It's part of my ENFP personality type, I know. The Inspirer: we see potential everywhere, in everything and everyone. We're probably most susceptible to plot bunnies, starting stories we don't finish, and generally sitting, like Daisy March, wearing a benevolent smile and announcing,
"Me wuvs evvybody!"
Thankfully, I've managed to more or less curb that impulse to "abandon stories in favor of a fresher idea". I hope to be a good mother someday. I've got to learn to see things through, right? Just so. But the bug called Inspiration bites me frequently and sometimes I careen past Caution, Sense, Logic, and the street-corner called Informed Consumer and thoroughly embrace an opportunity. It's a loveable failing, but a definite failing.

Last November I felt in a mood to write a short story and, because I don't like to write things that won't see the light of day, I did a quick Google-search on story-writing contests. In my delvings, I found an "essay contest" for an inspirational magazine. The essays requested were something along the lines of a letter from your one-hundred year-old self to yourself now. The idea was odd, struck my fancy, and produced something written in a fit of the writing-wiggles called "The Secret To Red Lipstick". Happily, there was no entry fee for this particular contest and the only thing I had to risk was rejection. If I was accepted, there was a $2,500 prize in view. I sent the thing in and literally forgot it. In January I happened to sort through my Google Drive files and see the essay. I read it over, recalled vaguely that I had entered some contest with it and never heard back, and closed the file and the memory. A few weeks later, I received an email in my inbox from a man of whom I'd never heard. When I read the thing, I was made to understand that the man in question was the editor-in-chief from Fountain Magazine (the contest-host). He wrote to inform me that he had discussed matters with his colleagues and, though my essay had not placed in the contest, they intended to publish "The Secret To Red Lipstick" in the next issue of Fountain. Thinking this was rather an unexpected and curious turn of events (and furthermore, having been reminded of the name of the publication to which I had submitted my piece), I decided to Google the magazine and see what sort of banner my words would fly under.
In a moment I was a puddle of laughter, dismay, tears, and hilarity on my bed while my sister looked on in some small concern. Dear reader, Fountain Magazine is a primarily Islamic publication focusing on science, literature, art, and inspirational fiction. I believe I am probably the only outspokenly-Christian writer who could accidentally land herself a gig in a Muslim magazine. After my initial shock and awe, I sent a few emails back and forth with the editor, discussing whether I was the best match for the magazine's goals, the fact that when I entered, I had accepted the small-print detail (who reads those?) that I had given the magazine permission to publish my story. We also discussed the fact that since my faith was so important to me, I would be given special permission to mention my religious affiliation in my bio-blurb. The editor was fantastically courteous, understanding, easy-going, and respectful and what had initially been a "what the heck?!" moment for me became a lesson learned. I had not researched the publication to which I was submitting my work. I did not read the Terms & Conditions. I had done absolutely nothing in the way of approaching the thing as a mature adult, and yet it ended up being a good experience. Why? Because of another person who did act like a mature person.

I learned that one must always take time to research, to learn the audience, and to be certain that one's work would be a good fit. But more importantly, I learned that there are ways to solve differences without compromising ground. The day I received the package with my copies of the issue of Fountain in which my article appeared (and my check), was a proud day for me. The layout was beautiful. My words were my own. And they had appeared, professionally laid-out and paid-for in an international magazine despite my lack of foresight. Hearken to this advice, chillens: do your research. But keep in mind that sometimes the mad-man wins in spite of his own idiocy.


Jamie said...

I love seeing these unforgettable touches of Providence. Thank you for sharing!
Encouraging, too, that you did in fact get published with your faith acknowledged. This post gave me a (much-needed) major smile today.

Anonymous said...

Haha, that's awesome! Isn't it cool when the stuff you least expect to succeed does? Also, I found your article on The Fountain's website and, wow. I would make an exception for that too. :-)

Joy said...

This is an amazing story, Rachel! I laughed out loud when you mentioned what the magazine was part of. . . Oh my word!!

I say that was quite a providential twist of events, and even though you did not do research about that magazine, God had done it for you in advance. Who knows but that it might lighten the heart of a seeking soul.

Was the story in any way Christian-related?
Also, I find it so wonderful that the editor was open, and easy-going about your point of keeping your faith an element in your bio! Praise God!

Jenelle Leanne said...

That is a fantastic and hilarious story! How cool is it that we serve a Lord who cares even about our little short stories and bouts of whimsy and uses them all for His glory?

Love it!

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Oh my, oh my. That sounds like a definite Rollings Reliable moment. :) I'm so happy it all turned out well for you in the end!

Becca Weston said...

this is vastly amusing, Rachel. :) But more to the point, congratulations on getting it published, (and being brave enough to retain the right to talk about your faith!). This will be a fun story to tell your grandchildren. :)

Rachel Heffington said...

Aurelia: I'm glad to be of service!
Hanna: Well, thank you. That is high praise!
Joy: Yes, it is relieving to see our mistakes don't botch EVERYTHING.
Jenelle: just so!
Elisabeth: "Anne Shirley" was the first phrase that popped into my head in that moment. XD
Becca: thank you! It is certainly an example of classic Rachelism. XD

Rachel Rossano said...

Congratulations on being published, no matter the publication. :) Also, thank you for offering us a great example of humility in owning your flaws like we all should and learning from your experience. Regardless of where it was publishing, I very much appreciated the piece. :) Maybe it will offer someone a door of utterance to the gospel. Who knows how the Lord intends to use this. ;)

Hayden said...

haha, WOW. I loved reading this, and I'm sure the Lord will use this article for His glory: even if its publication was technically a bit of an accident, the circumstances are way too unusual to *not* have the hand of God all over it! :)

And the quote from Daisy made me laugh, too. :)